Anecdote of the Jar Questions and Answers
by Wallace Stevens

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What are examples of imagery from the poem "Anecdote of the Jar" by Wallace Stevens?

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Image is defined in the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics as "the reproduction in the mind of a sensation produced by a physical perception." This definition is, indeed, an appropriate one for the imagery created by Wallace Stevens in his poem, "Anecdote of a Jar" because the imagery connected to the jar dominates the overall impressions of the verse as it has not just a sensuous element, but a mental component, too.

Here are examples of imagery in "Anecdote of the Jar"

  • "slovenly"- The artist places a simple jar in Tennessee where there are no artificial objects for miles around the hill. Because of the jar's anomalous position on this hill, it somehow draws in the "slovenly wilderness." This image of a wilderness that is "slovenly," or messy and unkempt is rather startling and incongruous with the image of a simple glass jar.
  • "round and tall" - These simple words suggest shapes that are rather ordinary. Yet, the jar's being round, which is unlike most shapes in the forest, makes it an anomaly in the wilderness.
  • "tall and of a port in the air" - The repetition of "tall" suggests that the jar is very noticeable. The image of "port" is ambiguous, for it can suggest a harbor or a refuge, or an opening. Perhaps, Stevens suggests that art offers an opening of the mind as well as a refuge for the soul from the real world.
  • "gray and bare" - The jar is nondescript and of only a neutral state. It is essentially colorless, unlike anything in nature. This again emphasizes the part that art plays in igniting the imagination which gives it meaning.
  • "bird and bush" - This is an image of wildlife in its natural habitat in contrast the the artistic creation of the jar. The jar is "like nothing else in Tennessee" because it is man-made and imposes its own meaning upon the natural setting.
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