Stevens’ grandeur is an inch away from absurdity, if not in the thick of it. This is by intention. He liked to deflate solemnity with silliness. His humor is his least noticed attribute, probably because it is so widespread. Even his titles—“The Revolutionists Stop for Orangeade,” “The Emperor of Ice-Cream”—undercut their own pomposity. Sometimes I think Stevens was a collegiate prankster who never gave away the joke he played on literature.