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Sunday Morning

Wallace Stevens

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Added by: Jeff Krauss
'Sunday Morning" is a profound analysis of the post-Christian West. Any god must be immanent, not as 'Jove' in his 'inhuman birth.' The joys of sense are the most we can hope for--no unchangable heaven. The longing is still there, but the ending of the poem (the pigeons descending to darkness) tells of the 'twilight of the idols,' i.e. any hope FROM beyond this world as unsustainable. Mournful.
Added by: P
One could write pages on this poem but when reading it try looking at the development of religion and sensual experience throughout the poem.

My professor taught me the following:
(indeed it was difficult for me to come to this alone!)

The women decides that she doesn't need the confines of a specific religion. The amgibuous undulations of the pigeons describes this; it is the embrace of the unknown that is life. The extended wings is the embrace of the darkness of the world unillumined by the light of Christian truths.
an aesthetic perspective
Added by: T. Arthur Donovan
As the last comment noted, countless pages have been written analyzing this poem. However, probably the most important and most easily overlooked aspect of this poem is the element of the aesthetic criteria.

In 'The Birth of Tragedy,' Nietzsche wrote, "It is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are eternally justified."

In "Early Stevens: The Nietzschean Intertext," B. J. Leggett makes a convincing case that Stevens was probably reading Nietzsche at the time he was writing this poem, though this is primarily a side-issue.

Of all the complex and interwoven layers within “Sunday Morning,” the most interesting is Stevens’ presentation of the aesthetic. “Sunday Morning” tells the story of a woman’s morning outside of church, as she appreciates the secular beauty of the world around her, but “‘still feel[s]/The need of some imperishable bliss,’” (62-63). Stevens explains that the heaven she desires cannot and should not exist. It’s the death that grants beauty; the evanescence of the world provides the aesthetic value. On line 63, Stevens posits that “Death is the mother of beauty.” The religions of the world have died, and in their place, there is only beauty. The old God has met death, and mothered a new God; the God of a world that values the aesthetic before all else.

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