Anecdote of the Jar

Here’s the poem I read in class today, by Wallace Stevens; I brought it up in the context of John Cage’s “4:33” — the idea of an empty frame as a work of art. The text of the poem is copied here from

I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.


The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.


It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.

Wallace Stevens, “Anecdote of the Jar” from Collected Poems. Copyright 1923, 1951, 1954 by Wallace Stevens. Reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: Poetry (October 1919).

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