Friday, January 27, 2012

It was a small part of the pantomime.

So I really, really missed the poetry boat this week, but life just caught up to me. Here, as an apology:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Wallace Stevens

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.

1 comment:

  1. It's never too late for a Wallace Stevens poem! So I hope it's not too late to thank you for posting this one.

    I do not know which to prefer,
    The beauty of inflections
    Or the beauty of innuendoes,
    The blackbird whistling
    Or just after.

    Me, neither.

    Did you know- being a northeasterner, you might-- that there exists in Hartford a Wallace Stevens Walk? Some day I'll go and read the poem there.

    I always thought it was interesting that Stevens could write the way he did while spending his days at the insurance company. But I'll admit I never wondered what it would have been like to have him as a co-worker!

    This is another of his bird poems that I really like:

    At the earliest ending of winter,
    In March, a scrawny cry from outside
    Seemed like a sound in his mind.

    He knew that he heard it,
    A bird's cry, at daylight or before,
    In the early March wind.

    The sun was rising at six,
    No longer a battered panache above snow...
    It would have been outside.

    It was not from the vast ventriloquism
    Of sleep's faded papier-mache...
    The sun was coming from the outside.

    That scrawny cry--It was
    A chorister whose c preceded the choir.
    It was part of the colossal sun,

    Surrounded by its choral rings,
    Still far away. It was like
    A new knowledge of reality.

    I could use some Spring reality about now...