Anne Stevenson, Astonishment

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This is Anne Stevenson’s eighteenth collection of new poems and marks the culmination of her lifetime’s achievement as a poet. Stevenson, like Eliot and Pound before her and her contemporary, Sylvia Plath, is an American by upbringing and education, who has chosen to live most of her life in the United Kingdom. Andrew Motion has described her as “one of the most remarkable poetic voices to have emerged on either side of the Atlantic in the last fifty years”. This collection bears persuasive witness to that evaluation.

The title draws for its inspiration on the fifth section of Derek Walcott’s poem “White Egrets”, published by Faber in 2010, from which Stevenson selects the opening line as an epigraph: “The perpetual ideal is astonishment.” Stevenson appeals, like Walcott,

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Citation: Gordon, Ian. "Astonishment". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November 2012 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=34715, accessed 21 May 2024.]

34715 Astonishment 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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