Wallace Stevens sits uneasily in the modernist canon. Whereas the verse principles of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound – two obvious comparators – have become almost synonymous with the broader movement they did so much to shape, Stevens’s poetics are less easily defined. He appears more at ease with the legacies of Romanticism than do many of his peers, and less committed to the premise that radical poetic techniques are essential to the apprehension, and generation, of radical insights. Indeed, admirers and detractors alike have tended to emphasise his formal conservatism.1

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There are, of course, exceptions. Studies emphasising the deceptive radicalism of Stevens’s techniques include Beverly Maeder, Wallace Stevens’ Experimental Language: The Lion in the Lute (New York 1999), and Stefan Hollander,...