Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination
Wallace Stevens


In this collection of essays, consummate poet Wallace Stevens reflects upon his art. His aim is not to produce a work of criticism or philosophy, or a mere discussion of poetic technique. As he explains in his introduction, his ambition in these various pieces, published in different times and places, aimed higher than that, in the direction of disclosing poetry itself, the naked poem, the imagination manifesting itself in its domination of words. Stevens proves himself as eloquent and scintillating in prose as in poetry, as he both analyzes and demonstrates the essential act of repossessing reality through the imagination.

Paperback, 192pp
Vintage Books, 1965 (1951)
ISBN 9780394702780



I. The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words
II. The Figure of the Youth as Noble Poet
III. Three Academic Pieces
IV. About One of Marianne Moore’s Poems
V. Effects of Analogy
VI. Imagination as Value
VII. The Relations between Poetry and Painting

WALLACE STEVENS was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1879 and died in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1955. Harmonium, his first volume of poems, was published in 1923, and was followed by Ideas of Order (1936), The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937), Parts of a World (1942), Transport to Summer (1947), The Auroras of Autumn (1950), The Necessary Angel (a volume of essays, 1951), The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1954), and Opus Posthumous (1957; revised and corrected in 1989). Stevens was awarded the Bollingen Prize in Poetry of the Yale University Library for 1949. He twice won the National Book Award in Poetry and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1955. From 1916 on, he was associated with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, of which he became vice president in 1934.