In his poetry, one critic observes, Wallace Stevens
...suggests that we live in the tension between the shapes we take as the world acts upon us and the ideas of order that our imagination imposes upon the world.
Perhaps, Wallace Stevens employs the image of dry bread, the staple of every meal, because life has grown old and stale as men have abandoned their vibrant lives in order to go to war. For, that which sustains life--love and family--has been abandoned, just as the "river that batters its way over the stones" and the birds are "Flying from burning countries and brown sand shores."
Thematic of the poem are the first two...
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