Emperor of Ice-Cream Poem Analysis

Title of Poem: The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Type of Poem: Ode

Author: Wallace Stevens


Literal Meaning

After you read the poem, what does the literal meaning seem to be? What is happening in the poem?

This poem is referring to a funeral, the second stanza talks about a dead person being covered up. The only real hint to her age is the description of “deal” (cheap pine) without doorknobs being used as dresser, along with her “horny” feet”. In the first stanza, the “emperor of ice cream” is preparing a desert for the funeral and the boys are brings flowers for the funeral and not for romance. The poem also relates ice-cream with the dead women by saying they are very good but overtime their life will eventually end.



Pick out three uses of imagery and write them below (this will most likely be a phrase or line from the poem), then explain what the poet is trying to convey with this image. (include line citations)

1. IMAGE: If her horny feet protrude

MEANING: Describes the dead women


2. IMAGE: Take from the dresser of deal, Lacking the three glass knobs,

MEANING: Describes the old cheap dresser made out of deal


3. IMAGE: and let the boys, Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers

MEANING: Describes the flowers wrapped in newspaper


Lyric Qualities

Describe the sound of this poem. You will use terms like: internal rhyme, rhyme scheme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and repetition. Find two specific lines or elements of the poem to discuss. List them and then tell what you think they mean.

1. Lyric Device: The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Meaning: Repetition – emperor / line


2. Lyric Device: In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.

Meaning: Alliteration, C


Figurative Meaning

Find at least two figurative devices and explain what they mean. You are looking for terms like: simile, metaphor, allusion, symbolism and personification.

1. Figurative Device: On which she embroidered fantails once

Meaning: Personification


2. Figurative Device: Take from the dresser of deal,

Meaning: Allusion, referencing the old cheap pine wood without really stating what kind of deal it was


3) Figurative Device: The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Meaning: Symbolism, ice-cream symbolizes something cold and desirable, but it eventually becomes warm and undesirable over time



What do you think is the message of this poem?

One of the biggest reasons why Ice-cream is so appealing is because it’s only cold and good for a certain amount of time. After a while, it warms up and becomes unappealing for some people. This poem also describes people that way since it takes place at an old women’s funeral however instead describes the dead women as cold. So the message of the poem is that life is short and eventually will eventually end over time, just like ice-cream.

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