Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird – Wallace Stevens

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(3:26)
read by Allan Davis Drake. audio from Drake’s Door.

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.

7 thoughts on “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird – Wallace Stevens

  1. Tim

    “admin Says:
    December 28th, 2008 at 11:25 am

    not my favorite reading of the poem.”

    Hello! Was wondering… What _is_ your favorite recording? Any specific suggestions on how this reading _could_ have been read? Why is it _not_ your favorite? Why did you choose it if it isn’t your favorite? What’s good (or bad) about it, even though it isn’t your favorite?

  2. admin Post author

    Tim –

    Thanks for visiting and the comment. I should first say that I think it’s great Alan Davis Drake has undertaken this effort to read so many poems aloud. I do believe hearing a poem read adds another dimension to understanding.

    I included this recording because it was the best I could find (clear, audible voice, distinct manner). It is, however, in my opinion a bit static. It’s very much a “typical” poetic reading. Not particularly dramatic (though he does have some nice inflections in parts). If you compare it to other readings on the site – they’re either more dramatic (see Cummings or Yeats) or less formal and rigid (see Kooser or Collins). I think Drake could do more to impart emotion of the poem.

    I do appreciate Drake’s work, and I’m glad to find a solid recording of a reading of this poem. Hope you enjoy the site!

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