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Religion in American Poetry Essay (Critical Writing)


Religion is one of the themes that are explored in the poetic works of Wallace Stevens, even though he did not speak much about his belief in God during his lifetime. This paper is aimed at examining such a poem as Sunday Morning. In particular, it is necessary to focus on the themes that this author explores and the main argument that he makes.

Overall, in this poem Wallace Stevens wants to show that religious faith is very similar to a person’s admiration for the beauty of nature. Moreover, an individual should derive enjoyment from the natural world, rather than the thoughts about the afterlife. These are the main issues that should be examined.

First, it should be noted that Wallace Stevens focuses on the experiences of a woman who does not want to be in the church unlike many other people. She thinks about such issues as the beauty of nature, the role of faith in the person’s life, and the feeling of contentment. She believes that an individual can find happiness in the natural world, rather than religion. This is why she poses several rhetorical questions,

“Why should she give her bounty to the dead?

What is divinity if it can come

Only in silent shadows and in dreams?” (Stevens unpaged)

In her opinion, one can derive enjoyment from various aspects of the natural world, for example, one can speak about the change of seasons, the scent of flowers, the chirp of birds and many other things that are readily available to an individual. This is one of the thoughts that this character ponders over. Additionally, Wallace Stevens tries to develop this idea by comparing Jesus to the ancient Greek god Jove (Stevens unpaged).

This analogy is very important for the author because Jove symbolized the beauty and power of nature. This idea is important for understanding the religious views of Wallace Stevens because it implies that God can be found in various manifestations of the material world which is perceptible to a human being. Apart from that, there is no reason to think that afterlife is more important than the material existence of an individual. This is one of the main issues that should be considered.

Furthermore, in this poem, Wallace Stevens pays close attention to the concept of paradise. According to a popular conception, this is a place in which no change takes place. This is how the author describes this place,

“Is there no change of death in paradise?

Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs

Hang always heavy in that perfect sky” (Stevens unpaged)

In turn, the woman, who is described by Wallace Stevens, believes that this form of existence can be very tedious. In her opinion, the absence of change deprives nature of its beauty. This is one of the main elements that the poet emphasizes in his work.

On the whole, this discussion shows that the questions related to religion are of great concern to Wallace Stevens. He does not reject the idea of religious faith. Nevertheless, he wants to demonstrate that an individual should first focus on the material world which can bring both enjoyment and suffering. This is one of the main issues that the poet wants explore. This poem can enable the readers better understand Wallace Stevens’ attitude toward religion.

Works Cited

Stevens Wallace. Sunday Morning. n. d. Web. <>

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"Religion in American Poetry." IvyPanda, 14 May 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/religion-in-american-poetry/.

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IvyPanda. "Religion in American Poetry." May 14, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religion-in-american-poetry/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Religion in American Poetry." May 14, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religion-in-american-poetry/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Religion in American Poetry'. 14 May.

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