>>7660657 I'll indulge you with the Snow Man as a way of explanation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174502
Firstly his rhythm and lyricism was up there. Just look at the stuff like 'crusted' to 'shagged' to 'spruces'. Those dragging rolls are a part of it, but he was also good at terser imagisms, like his famous anecdote of the jar. That functions less lyrically, but its just a solid parable image overall.
Also he uses small to commentate on large view, but not in the declamatory way of a Shakespeare soliloquy, for example. In the Snow Man he starts with a light exhortation, switches up to the lyrical description of Nature. But if you go on it gets larger and larger to the abstract notion of the all-encompassing obscurity of Winter. So by the start he posits the 'mind of winter', and starting with Nature he ends with the abstract notion of what he means.
Let's say you have the To Be or Not To Be speech. That shoves the existentialism right in your face, and its pretty clear cut. If you took out all the parts that was straight up talking about Death, and got at it sideways, for example, like a bunch of poems by Rilke, or Trakl, you'd have the Modern sensibility. Stevens was the master of getting at things sideways like that. His other poem, the one about reading a book, is probably a perfect image of what goes on in the process of getting into that imaginary location in your head that arises from the union between the concrete of the page, and the abstract of your own head.
Hart Crane generally has one declamatory Romanticist tone, even though he has very startling images and turns of word. Stevens could dissapear into varied types of tones, sometimes being funny, sometimes crazy like the Emperor of Ice Cream.
really? we're going to have two poets who worked in the tradition of Whitman except not include Whitman himself? Whitman is as important as Shakespeare. He was also a better poet than Stevens and Crane, and I adore both of them. Whitman looks easy but is actually a very difficult poet. He is also the most influential poet of the last 200 years by far. Stevens' line of influence mostly ends with Ashbery and Crane's is largely dead.
also I'll add that neither really produced a work of poetry as varied and original as Song of Myself. Stevens' closest is maybe Auroras of Autumn, and Crane's is The Bridge -- though I really hate The Bridge as a whole, I prefer his shorter lyrics.
Stevens was a very rich poet but I largely think his later works were less pretentious (in the true sense of the word), and focused less on the philosophical and more on the self. Stevens has a lot of pseudophilosophical duds and to people who only read the first few poems of Harmonium or Blue Guitar it's not obvious how much he parodied himself throughout his career. I don't think he's nearly as rich as Whitman, and his tone is, even with the finer graces of technical proficiency and a wonderful sense for autumn imagery, rather limited to a hermetic-philosophical one. Crane was even more limited, though I think in his small area of focus he accomplished more than Stevens.
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