Poetry Explication For "The Emperor Of Ice Cream"

744 words - 3 pages

Wallace Steven's, "The Emperor of Ice Cream" uses carefree, silly sounding language to keep the reader's attention in order to prove his point that life is short and as humans we need to enjoy every moment we can and not worry about how we look. This free-verse poem elucidates this point through comparing life to death all in the same setting and time period.
The poem begins, "Call the roller of big cigars,/ The muscular one, and bid him whip/ In the kitchen cups concupiscent curds" (1-3). Cigars are usually very expensive and are saved for big occasions or special events, so the strong guy (obviously worried by appearance) that is smoking a cigar on this day is whipping something in a kitchen. The kitchen in itself shows that this event is small and intimate, as a kitchen cup would only be found in someone's house. Curds have something to do with dairy, so by this person whipping dairy, Stevens could already be talking of ice cream. These three lines also add to the silliness of the poem in the language techniques Stevens uses. "bid him whip" is an example of an assonance, and "kitchen cups concupiscent curds" is both an alliteration and a cacophony. These techniques may be used to hold the reader's attention and make them continue reading. The poem then goes on to say, "Let the wenches dawdle in such dress/ As they are used to wear, and let the boys/ Bring flowers in last month's newspapers" (4-6). The word "dawdle" sticks out in the fourth line as it suggests a new aspect to Steven's story. It may suggest that since no one is in a hurry, they are not making use of their time, and too caught up in the seriousness and depression of life to enjoy life itself. These three lines also talk of personality and how it is more important to be yourself, hence "such dress as they used to wear," than of appearance. The final stanza concludes with two complete sentences, "Let be be finale of seem./ The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream" (7-8). The first of these two...

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