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

Michigan Law Authors
Areas of Interest
Publish Date
1990
Publication
Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities
Publication Type
Journal Article
Abstract

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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