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The Idea Of Order At Key West

Wallace Stevens

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Added by: David
"I know not seems." This is a tough one, perhaps a little Hamlet along with MacBeth? That old percpetion vs reality saw again. Rather a lot to unpack, does anyone have any suggestions about the cigar roller, is he just a literal presence, does he have a symbolic meaning too? Help?
Added by: Giovanna
I would be inclined to suggest that the poem's ambiguity is intentional; it shows that the only reason things are there, in our own individual world, is because we see them through ourselves. But it changes FROM that to the concept of reality *without* perception and whether it is real outsideof us. Possibly it can't come to a solid solution, because it is operating FROM the LIMIT of words (I'm sure Stpephens bore this in mind!) and therefore we just don't have a totally autonomous perception, and so we can't know- except in poetry that is!
Added by: dallydoo
i think the girl is a ghost of someone who has drowned. Her voice is haunting, and she and the sea are one entity. at the end of the night he returns, home, cursing the emptiness she leaves him with.
Added by: margaret
i think this poem is about how our imagination/perception [I/P] strives to create order out of things to make sense of what we don't understand.

"she" is our I/P and the sea[and sky] represents reality which is unknown to us, just as the real ocean is a mystery to us still...

"It was her voice that made / the sky acutest at its vanishing" -the sky is a mystery that is only made clear when we make something out of it

"For she was the maker of the song she sang" -we make our reality thru our I/P

"But it was she and not the sea we heard" -our I/P may not be correct, but it is what is true to us, regardless of reality

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