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In Steven's poem "Bantams in Pine-Woods," Azcan can be viewed as both a place and, by virtue of a metonymic shift in the last line of the poem, the "chieftain" of the place as well. As a fictional place, Azcan is rendered as an old-world or ancient environs, a region still ruled by a tribal leader whose name, Iffucan, resonates with the potentialities of a Mexican sun god. As a person, Azcan is identified as the "universal cock" and "ten-foot poet" and represents both universal reality itself as well as a universalizing tendency in poetry, inviting some scholars to posit specific poets as the target of this address (Blake, Shelly, Whitman, and Longfellow among them). The "inchling" speaker of the poem curses Azcan ("Damned universal cock"), claims his separateness from him ("Your world is you. I am my world"), and claims not to fear him. Rather, the speaker "bristles in the pines," suggesting a countervailing attitude toward Azcan. In this way Steven's challenges the immensity of the universalizing poetry that has proceeded him and seeks a break with such traditions. Likewise, this poem might be viewed as an effort to claim individual ("I am the personal") separateness from absolute and unknowable reality.

Bantams in Pine-Woods

Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan/ Of tan with henna hackles, halt!

Damned universal cock, as if the sun/ Was blackamoor to bear your blazing tail.

Fat! Fat! Fat! Fat! I am the personal./ Your world is you. I am my world.

You ten-foot poet among inchlings. Fat!/ Begone! An inchling bristles in these pines,

Bristles, and points their Appalachian tangs,/ And fears not portly Azcan nor his hoos.


Bradbury, Malcom, and F.W Cook. "Whose Hoo? A Reading of Wallace Stevens' "Bantams in Pine Woods". Bulletin: British Association for American Studies 24.4 (1962): 36-41: JSTOR. Web. 27 Jan 2014.