Stanza My Stone
Wallace Stevens and the Hermetic Tradition
Purdue University Press
Woodman traces the appearance of the Heavenly Man of spiritual alchemy in “Owl’s Clover,” Steven’s longest poem, and in the figure of the hero, a major motif in Stevens’s work from the thirties on. She then considers the alchemical tradition to clarify the uses Steven made of its symbolic system. Succeeding chapters consider the relation of the Hermetic Man to the “supreme fiction”; the spiritual reciprocity between imagination and reality – variations of the Hermetic doctrine of correspondence; the decreation and recreation of self and nature that constitute the metamorphic stages of Hermetic meditation; and the Hermetic theory of transcendental perception that lies at the core of Steven’s account of human transformation. The final chapter turns to Steven’s native Pennsylvania to suggest the means by which he may have encountered the Rosicrucian tradition (the corporate form of modern Hermetism) that appears to have profoundly influenced his creative life.