An Analysis of Sunday Morning Essay

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An Analysis of Wallace Stevens' Sunday Morning

“Sunday Morning” by Wallace Stevens is a poem about a woman having a late breakfast and thinking about the purpose of religion. Stevens wants the readers to ask themselves the questions that the woman asks, and to explore their feelings towards Christianity. He also wants to spark an awareness of nature. The first stanza asks the first tentative questions before launching into a racy debate in the later stanzas.

Stevens uses stanza I to set the scene for the rest of the poem. The first five lines describe that the main character, known simply as “She,” skipped church, “to dissipate the holy hush of ancient sacrifice,” and have a late breakfast described as “Coffee
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Line 23 explains that she cannot look to a religion for comfort rather “divinity must live within herself,” or that all she can count on is within her. While the second stanza examines Christian traditions, stanza III moves the discussion the nature of heaven.

Stanza III questions the existence of an afterlife. In the beginning of this stanza, the woman recalls the story of Jove, a mythical Roman god. Beginning in line 35, she thinks the emergence of Jesus Christ cast down Jove as a charlatan:

Magnificent, would move among his hinds,
Until our blood, commingling, virginal,
With heaven, brought such requital to desire
The very hinds discerned it, in a star.

Hinds are shepherds. The phrase “Our blood” refers to the virginal blood of Mary, and later Jesus. The coming of Jesus caused shepherds loyal to Jove to abandon worship of him for Christianity. The next line, “Shall our blood fail?,” is clearly a question about the existence of an afterlife (line 39). In the last four lines, Stevens shows the woman comparing her vision of the afterlife with the mortal world, as she states beginning in line 42:

The sky will be much friendlier then than now,
A part of labor and a part of pain,
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