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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.


Wallace Stevens, "The Snowman," "The Emperor of Ice Cream," and "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright 1954 by Wallace Stevens. Reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1982)

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  • Arts & Sciences

Poet Bio

Wallace Stevens
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Wallace Stevens is one of most significant American poets of the 20th century. The consummate businessman-poet, Stevens had a successful career as a corporate lawyer when his first book of poems, Harmonium, was published in 1923. However, he did not receive widespread recognition from the literary community until the release of his Collected Poems in 1954. See More By This Poet

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