Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens |

  • Mon Jan 6th, 2014 4:49am
  • Life


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.


About This Poem

“Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Blackbird” was first published in Others: An Anthology of the New Verse in 1917. While it was inspired by the haiku form, none of the sections in this poem are actually haiku. This poem was later published in Stevens’s first book of poetry, Harmonium (1923).

Wallace Stevens was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1879. He attended Harvard University and received his J.D. from New York Law School.

His major works include Ideas of Order (1935), The Man With the Blue Guitar (1937), and Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction(1942). Though now considered a major American poet, he did not receive widespread recognition until the publication of hisCollected Poems (1954), just a year before his death in 1955.