Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

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

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?

 

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.


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This poem was first published in October 1917 by Alfred Kreymborg in Others: An Anthology of the New Verse and two months later in the December issue of Others: A Magazine of the New Verse. Included in Vox Populi for educational use only.
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2 comments on “Wallace Stevens: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

  1. nananoyz
    March 6, 2018

    Love this! “It was evening all afternoon.” Brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. robert okaji
    March 5, 2018

    Reblogged this on O at the Edges and commented:
    So much has happened in the century since this was first published, yet it remains fresh.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on March 4, 2018 by in Poetry and tagged , , .

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