In line with the thinking of "Sunday Morning," Stevens' "The Emperor of Ice-Cream" (1923) continues the thread of logic that death is an essential element of life. In two octaves bizarrely joyous in rhythm and tone, he arranges imperatives — call, bid, let bring, let be — to the attendants of the dead as the droll funereal rites take shape. The piling up of death images frames the finality of passage as well as an end to posturing, an end to desire. In a line that demystifies ritual grief, the cigar roller whips up "concupiscent curds" in kitchen cups, a lengthening of hard-edged cacophonies of alliterated K sounds to express the artificiality of mourning. Modern standards of grief take shape in the wenches' "usual" dress and boys bearing floral arrangements in discarded newspaper. However well performed, none of these actions stops the finality of death. For good reason, Stevens repeats the title image in lines 8 and 16. The notion of decay, embodied in
This is the end of the preview. Sign up
access the rest of the document.