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Top 100 or so Poems - POEM OF THE DAY "The Emperor of Ice-Cream" by Wallace Stevens.

It would not be possible to include only one of Stevens' poems in our Top 100 anthology (the other being his "Anecdote of the Jar"). Wallace Stevens was one of the most influential and important of the American Modernist poets. Stevens was an officer of a prominent insurance company (now known as The Hartford) and worked in relative anonymity as a poet for most of his career. In his fifties, he published his famous "Collected Poems" won him the coveted Pulitzer Prize in 1955.

Stevens, as a poet (remember, according to William Carlos Williams all poets are damned) was not always the genteel insurance vice-presodent which is portrayed today; famous Key West altercations included drunken fighting with Robert Frost and a fist fight with Ernest Hemingway in which he broke his hand on Hemingway's jaw an act which was quickly followed by Stevens being pummeled several times into the street.

Blurring the line between imagination and reality, this breakthrough Wallace Stevens poem appears to be about death, cold death. Masterfully constructed, this is an American masterpiece in clever word-play, so enjoy! And comments, please.

The Emperor Of Ice-Cream

by Wallace Stevens

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal.
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

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