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The last lines of The Snow Man with their emphasis on seeing nothing that is not there and the nothing that is are particularly apt In this poem things not evoked are equal in importance to the things that are Why does Stevens invoke the idea of a man of snow one who has been cold for a long time and who is capable of gazing upon a winter landscape with perfect detachment if not to suggest that there exists an antithetical mode of perception Although some might argue that seeing things as they are to paraphrase The Man With the Blue Guitar is an absolute virtue Stevens is as Helen Vendler recognized a poet who deals more often with potential than actuality The final poem in his 1921 lyric sequence Tea at the Palaz of Hoon vividly shows an artist engaged with his surroundings carrying his involvement to a solipsistic extreme he brashly declares that he himself is the sole creator of his external reality Thus in Tea at the Palaz of Hoon there springs to life a figure whom The Snow Man creates through negative space -- made conspicuous through his absence The poem embodies Stevens central theme the relation between imagination and reality Endless permutations of this theme were possible Was reality the world seen without imagination If so was imagination the world seen without reality That was a bitter truth if it was the truth But perhaps the snowman who heard no misery in the wind was projecting himself into the scene just as much as the other listener Perhaps the snowman beheld nothing only because he was nothing himself since to cite a later poem whoever puts a pineapple together always sees it in the tangent of himself Yet even sound in The Snow Man can be a vehicle for self-projection Stevens does not directly attribute misery to the sound of the wind He says that one must be
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