Categories: Hartford, Literature
Poet Wallace Stevens Dies – Today in History: August 2
On August 2, 1955, the great American poet Wallace Stevens died at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. He was 75 and had stomach cancer. He had won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry that same year and had been an insurance executive at The Hartford for decades. Quiet and reclusive, he was often seen deep in thought as he walked from his home near Elizabeth Park to his offices at the insurance company. Born in 1879, Stevens had begun writing poetry while an undergraduate at Harvard, but his first book of poems, Harmonium, did not appear until 1923. Famous for the depth and intricacy of his poems, he produced his greatest works after turning 50, and in the last decade of his life won the National Book Award twice, as well as the Pulitzer. Among his many famous poems are “The Idea of Order at Key West,” “The Man with the Blue Guitar,” “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” and “Sunday Morning.” Many important poets of the 20th century—including Connecticut’s James Merrill—cite Stevens as a major influence on their work.