Wallace Stevens
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1917)

 

I

 

Among twenty snowy mountains,

 

The only moving thing

 

Was the eye of the black bird.

 

 

 

II

 

I was of three minds,

5

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

10

Are one.

 

A man and a woman and a blackbird

 

Are one.

 

 

 

V

 

I do not know which to prefer,

 

The beauty of inflections

15

Or the beauty of innuendoes,

 

The blackbird whistling

 

Or just after.

 

 

 

VI

 

Icicles filled the long window

 

With barbaric glass.

20

The shadow of the blackbird

 

Crossed it, to and fro.

 

The mood

 

Traced in the shadow

 

An indecipherable cause.

 

 

 

VII

25

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

30

I know noble accents

 

And lucid, inescapable rhythms;

 

But I know, too,

 

That the blackbird is involved

 

In what I know.

 

 

 

IX

35

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,

40

Even the bawds of euphony

 

Would cry out sharply.

 

 

 

XI

 

He rode over Connecticut

 

In a glass coach.

 

Once, a fear pierced him,

45

In that he mistook

 

The shadow of his equipage

 

For blackbirds.

 

 

 

XII

 

The river is moving.

 

The blackbird must be flying.

 

 

 

XIII

50

It was evening all afternoon.

 

It was snowing

 

And it was going to snow.

 

The blackbird sat

 

In the cedar-limbs.