Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

BY WALLACE STEVENS

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.

 


9 thoughts on “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

  1. Great poem! Have you found the variations? There are hundreds, I’m sure. But there’s a different way to play with it:

    Among twenty snowy mountains,

    The only moving thing

    Was the eye of the blackbird.

    or was that…

    Among twenty moving blackbirds,
    the only snowy thing
    was the eye of the mountain.

    Poetry is cool like that. As long as the words are there, in any logical order, the same information gets passed on. 🙂

    Thanks for listening.

  2. “It was evening all afternoon.

    It was snowing

    And it was going to snow. ”

    It is hot here. But these words bring me back a few months to a cold winter afternoon….looking out my window at the grey-white sky, when nothing is moving (except the eye of blackbird maybe!), especially me.

  3. I love this poem. It reminds me that Emily whose blog is called “It was Evening all Afternoon” doesn’t post anymore. She wrote such amazingly complex and carefully worded reviews.

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