The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Original Text: 
Harmonium (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, [September 7], 1923): 95. York University Library Special Collections 734
2The muscular one, and bid him whip
4Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
5As they are used to wear, and let the boys
6Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
7Let be be finale of seem.
8The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
10Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
12And spread it so as to cover her face.
13If her horny feet protrude, they come
14To show how cold she is, and dumb.
15Let the lamp affix its beam.
16The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.


1] Stevens confessed in letters to William Rose Benét in January 1933 that this poem, offering both the "commonplace" and a certain "gawdiness," took little effort to write (Letters, 263-64). Back to Line
3] concupiscent: sexually arousing. Back to Line
9] deal: wood of fir or pine. Back to Line
11] fantails: according to Stevens himself in June 1939, fantail pigeons (Letters, 340-41). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
The Dial 73 (July 1922): 64
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.