"The Emperor of Ice-Cream"
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This paper discusses the poem "The Emperor of Ice-Cream" by Wallace Stevens which describes a funeral scene. It shows how although the poem is based on the story of an old woman's wake, Stevens delves into the deeper meanings of life, death and reality in the poem. It examines how the title also symbolizes the primacy of physical, sensual pleasures, which is one of the themes of the poem. Although a funeral is about to take place, the narrator and the funeral attendants are more concerned with mundane details such as ice cream. It looks at how the poet ends each stanza with the line, 'The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream', which emphasizes that sensual pleasures are more important than thoughts of religion or the hereafter.
From the Paper:"However, Stevens isn't just trying to startle his readers. The poet presents a complex attitude toward death with "The Emperor of Ice-Cream." Death is treated by the funeral-goers as an unimportant, inconsequential, even distracting part of life. The funeral-goers, who cannot properly be called mourners because they show no signs of mourning, are not as concerned about the dead woman as they are with mundane things. Ice cream is the main symbol of these mundane considerations. Other minute details that distract the attendants, including the narrator, from the matter at hand are the "three glass knobs" missing from the deal dresser and the embroidery on the woman's cloth."
Cite this Poem Review:
"The Emperor of Ice-Cream" (2003, April 30) Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.academon.com/poem-review/the-emperor-of-ice-cream-25641/
""The Emperor of Ice-Cream"" 30 April 2003. Web. 14 April. 2021. <https://www.academon.com/poem-review/the-emperor-of-ice-cream-25641/>