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Map of buck county

Wallace's paternal ancestors are buried in Feasterville, #17 on the map (south).

Bucks county

Bucks County, PA

Bucks County, Pennsylvania is where Stevens’s father grew up.  Indeed, much of Stevens’s family, who were partly Dutch, originated here; they were part of the Dutch Reformed Church. Stevens’s paternal ancestors are buried in Feasterville, in the southern part of the county. (#17 on the map to the right.)

Except for the widow of an older brother, after Stevens’s sister Elizabeth died in early 1943, he had no family of his generation left except for his wife. As a result, Stevens developed an intense interest in genealogy, a fact reflected in his letters of the time. This interest helps explains such poems as “Dutch Graves in Bucks County” and “The Bed of Old John Zeller.”

"Dutch Graves in Bucks County"Edit

This Pennsylvanian county forms the geographic centerpiece of the poem “Dutch Grves in Bucks County,” an unusually personal poem for Stevens. (He frequently directly addresses the inhabitants of the graves, calling them “my semblables,” meaning “my fellow-men,” a phrase also used by T.S. Eliot in The Wasteland I.74.)

Eeanor Cook has this to say about the poem:

The poem is suffused with a sense of the war, in a meditation on these early American settlers and how their past intersects with the present conflict. The implications become increasingly unexpected and unsettling, starting with the fifth refrain, though Stevens retains a link with his past in the end. (174)

Cook, Eleanor. A Reader’s Guide to Wallace Stevens. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2007. Web. 26 Feb 2014.