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wallace stevens | thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird

WALLACE STEVENS

THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT A BLACKBIRD

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII
0 thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon,
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

5 Comments

  1. Oops. With apologies to Wallace Stevens.

  2. Blackbirds….males arrive here in late February, claim their hunk of marsh, and wait for the March parade of cute babes. The resulting families fly off to parts unknown before summer’s end. In October we’ll see some headed south, maybe stopping at the bird feeder for a goodbye.

  3. I have seen and read this one before and found it as good the second time as the first. I will send it on to Blackbird in PAThanks for all of your hard work !

  4. It’s good to read these observation lessons while some classical Variations-on-a-Theme are playing (and varying) in the background.

  5. Barbara Fitz Vroman

    September 24, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    It was evening all afternoon…
    and icicles as barbaric glass.

    That’s talent when even the segments stop one’s heart for
    a moment.

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