Wednesday 20 June 2012

"Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" by Wallace Stevens

This is one of my favorite poems ever, and since it's pubic domain (published 1917), I thought I'd post it! This site is here to promote the enjoyment of all that is beautiful in the written word, and I think this poem can speak for itself to that end. If you get a chance, take two minutes to revel in this beautiful piece of literature. I had a professor once who told the class that he would literally give his right arm to write a poem like this; then he paused, looked us all dead in the eye, and repeated, "literally."

If you get a chance to post, I'd love to know which is YOUR favorite way of looking at a blackbird. You can choose one of Stevens' options, or create your own!

"Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"
By Wallace Stevens

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

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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