Death And Death In Wallace Stevens's 'Sunday Morning'

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Death holds such endless fascination to people that it has permeated nearly every aspect of human culture – we write songs about it, strategize when to best trim back our gardens around its inevitability, and even base religions off of how to even slightly evade it. The idea of “something more,” an afterlife, is incredibly important to many people; along with fatality, that is one of the subjects of intense scrutiny of Wallace Stevens’s poem, “Sunday Morning.” “Sunday Morning” brushes on a number of interesting topics (such as male-female relationships, sex, and use of imagery). Unfortunately, throwing out three stanzas of the poem was vital to its initial publication. Stevens chose to ultimately re-arrange the poem to focus on a broader picture …show more content…
It is presented here in stark contrast with the character’s luxurious and vibrant lifestyle. In the second stanza, however, the character thinks about mortality more personally, wondering, “Why should [I] give [my] bounty to the dead?” Stevens presents death as intangible and absolute, separate from the woman and the life she leads. This narrative (namely that of questioning the separation between life and death, and death’s progression from stagnant to dynamic in our lives) and how it will develop is essential to Stevens’s conclusions about life (in all its facets) and its intertwinement with death. However, this is interrupted by the following stanza, the third in “Sunday Morning.” In this stanza, Stevens describes the birth and reign of Jove, who represents the man-made construction of religion and the human necessity to tie the …show more content…
“The grave” is mentioned, as is “the golden underground,” and the “isle melodious” that is populated with “spirits.” While these all are hallmarks to mythological interpretations of what comes after our physical life, the point of the stanza is to link them to human interpretation of the afterlife and its effect on how we live. While the forms of the afterlife listed above loom in hypothetical before us, Stevens draws his readers back to “April’s green,” “June,” and “evening” as the immediate present that we could be focusing on instead. This heralds back to the beginning of the poem, when Stevens’s character enjoys her soothing luxuries. However, the fourth stanza is unlike the first and second stanza in that the character does not connect back to death, and rather deals with mortality in connection with the presence of theoretical divinity, instead. It is not death that the woman, and by extension, the readers, are forced to question: it is why we use religion to make the world we inhabit more divine, when we have such bounties before us. Of course this is a valid point, and one that Stevens explores at length, but it has nothing to do with the focus of death.

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