Friday, January 27, 2006

Having Struggled with What to Choose For Poetry Friday...

I decided to go with my favorite Wallace Stevens poem. Thanks to Jo(e) for the idea of Poetry Friday!

"Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"

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.


Anonymous said...

i wrote a version of my dissertation proposal after this poem "thirteen ways of looking at my topic. love this one, thanks for sharing it.

Axis of Peter said...

I just love Stevens. I used to teach "the Motive for Metaphor," which has similar little concussions of imagery.

As I was rereading this, Robert Coover kept coming back to me, the Hansel and Gretel piece with the repeated image of the whirling black rags.

What a great piece for a Friday afternoon.

peg dash fab said...

i have loved wallace stevens' work since i was a teenager, that is, for a loooong time. thanks for posting "... blackbird." it's one of my favorites ... along with the emperor of ice cream and (my own fave) anecdote of the jar.

i like to imagine that i am still younger than stevens was when he picked up the pen.

please don't check my work!