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Auroras, Change And the Poetry of Wallace Stevens


The season changes. A cold wind chills the beach.

The long lines of it grow longer, emptier,

A darkness gathers though it does not fall


And the whiteness grows less vivid on the wall.

The man who is walking turns blankly on the sand.

He observes how the north is always enlarging the change,


With its frigid brilliances, its blue-red sweeps

And gusts of great enkindlings, its polar green,

The color of ice and fire and solitude.


The lines above are from “Auroras of Autumn,” a later-in-life poem by Connecticut’s own Wallace Stevens, man of many contrasts, a successful insurance executive who was also one of the most innovative and important poets of the 20th century.

The Cornwall Library in Cornwall, Conn., is presenting an eight-session special class (on Zoom) about Stevens, led by beloved book group leader Mark Scarbrough (of Colebrook, Conn., and also the author with his partner, Bruce Weinstein, of dozens of extremely popular cookbooks).

Scarbrough, who has a cult following among Tri-state region readers, describes Stevens as “the business executive as poet, the metaphysician as Hartford Insurance VP, the hulking wallflower, the shy brawler, the last Romantic, the first post-modern, the father of self-referentiality, the heir to John Keats, the foil to Robert Frost, the Republican Marxist, the quiet anarchist, the gawdy Puritan, the would-be sensualist in New England, the would-be prude in Key West. Stevens is all of these — and none. His poetry is arresting, mind-bending and gorgeous. Its images are haunting; its philosophy, disconcerting; its structure, impeccable.”

Even people who don’t love poetry love the poetry of Wallace Stevens. It is easy to read yet profound, complex and challenging. 

To learn more about the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, sign up for the class (you don’t have to be a resident of Cornwall), which will meet on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon on Zoom beginning Sept. 16 and ending Nov. 4.  There is no fee to participate; donations are welcomed. 

Information including the class syllabus and the specific poetry collection that will be used — as well as the registration form — can be found at the library website, www.cornwalllibrary.org.

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