About Elizabeth Park
Facts About the Park
Hartford: A City of Parks
Charles and Elizabeth Pond
Designer of Elizabeth Park
Wallace Stevens
Recreation History
Recreation Today
Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens, one of the most significant American poets of the 20th century, lived near Elizabeth Park in Hartford, Connecticut for almost 40 years. Born in 1879, Stevens attended Harvard University in Boston, and in 1904, received a law degree from New York Law School. In 1915, Stevens moved to Connecticut, where he worked for the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, today known as the Hartford. He became a Vice President and lived a dual life as an insurance executive and poet, a rare combination.

In 1932, Stevens bought a home at 118 Westerly Terrace in Hartford’s West End. Never learning to drive, he walked the two-mile route every day. During these walks, he would compose poems in his head. The City of Hartford and its surroundings were a major influence in his work.

One of his favorite places in Hartford was Elizabeth Park. With over 100 acres of formal gardens, vast lawns and meadows, greenhouses, and a pond, the park provided him with a place for reflection and recreation. Stevens wrote three poems that relate to Elizabeth Park: “Vacancy in the Park,” “Nuns Painting Water-Lilies,” and “The Plain Sense of Things.”

In 1946, Stevens was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters, in 1950 he received the Bollinger Prize in Poetry, and in 1955 he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Wallace Stevens died on August 2, 1955 and is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford.

For more information on Wallace Stevens and his connection to Elizabeth Park, please visit this link to a biography by Alison Johnson, “Wallace Stevens: A Dual Life as Poet and Insurance Executive.”

Poems by Wallace Stevens
about Elizabeth Park
Vacancy in the Park
By Wallace Stevens

March … Someone has walked across the snow,
Someone looking for he knows not what.

It is like a boat that has pulled away
From a shore at night and disappeared.

It is like a guitar left on a table
By a woman, who has forgotten it.

It is like the feeling of a man
Come back to see a certain house.

The four winds blow through the rustic arbor,
Under its mattresses of vines.
The Plain Sense of Things
by Wallace Stevens

After the leaves have fallen, we return
To a plain sense of things. It is as if
We had come to an end of the imagination,
Inanimate in an inert savoir.

It is difficult even to choose the adjective
For this blank cold, this sadness without cause.
great structure has become a minor house.
The No turban walks across the lessened floors.

The greenhouse never so badly needed paint.
The chimney is fifty years old and slants to one side.
A fantastic effort has failed, a repetition
In a repetitiousness of men and flies.

Yet the absence of the imagination had
Itself to be imagined. The great pond,
The plain sense of it, without reflections, leaves,
Mud, water like dirty glass, expressing silence.

Of a sort, silence of a rat come out to see,
The great pond and its waste of the lilies, all this
Had to be imagined as an inevitable knowledge,
Required, as a necessity requires.
Nuns Painting Water Lilies
By Wallace Stevens

These pods are part of the growth of life within life:
Part of the unpredictable sproutings, as of

The youngest, the still fuzz-eyed, odd fleurettes,
That could come in a slight lurching of the scene,

A swerving, a tilting, a little lengthening,
A few hours more of day, the unravelling

Of a ruddier summer, a birth that fetched along
The supernatural of its origin.

Inside our queer chapeaux, we seem, on this bank,
To be part of a tissue, a clearness of the air,

That matches, today, a clearness of the mind.
It is a special day. We mumble the words

Of saints not heard until now, unnamed,
In aureoles that are over-dazzling crests. . . 

We are part of a fraicheur, inaccessible
Or accessible only in the most furtive fiction.

For questions or information, please call: 860-231-9443, ext. 104
or email us:

Christine Doty
President and CEO

Kathy Kraczkowsky
Co-Director of Park Operations


Elizabeth Park Conservancy
1561 Asylum Avenue
West Hartford CT 06117
Map (directions)

Pond House Café
1555 Asylum Avenue
West Hartford CT 06117
860.231.8823 / phone
Map (directions)
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