November Poem--Wallace Stevens--Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird


I chose this poem because it has been a theme much on my mind since diving into more of the materials on another site--as I hope to discuss in some detail later.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Wallace Stevens

            Among twenty snowy mountains,
            The only moving thing
            Was the eye of the black bird.

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

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

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

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

            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.

            O 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?

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

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

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

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

            The river is moving.
            The blackbird must be flying.

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

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 20, 2003 7:34 AM.

Morning Offering and Prayer Requests was the previous entry in this blog.

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