"'After the Final No There Comes a Yes': A Law Teacher's Report"

Michigan Law Authors
Areas of Interest
Publish Date
Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities
Publication Type
Journal Article

For the past five or six years I have included six poems by Wallace Stevens in the readings for a required first-year law course. They are the only poems I teach in the course. Thomas Grey's thoughtful essay raises a seemingly unlikely question. Should Stevens's poetry be considered part of the legal canon? Do his poems possess legal authority? That in answer some kind of a "yes" or "maybe" might seriously be considered may at first surprise even the Stevens fans among legal academics. Yet why do I have the firm intuition that the poems are useful, relevant, important for law students to know? Why do they strike me as somehow deeply law-related? Professor Grey's question about poetry and legal authority prompts me to reflect upon and try to clarify my intuitions about law and Wallace Stevens. I share these reflections because those whose interest is aroused by Professor Grey's question might possibly be interested also in one personal and partial answer: how one teacher has found Stevens essential in one practical legal context, the training of law students in the ways of legal thought. So I offer this report from practice.

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