Blackbird Poem by Wallace Stevens

The editor of writes that this poem—which would become one of the most memorable and influential poems in American modernism—was first published on this day 100 years ago, in Poetry magazine. The poet Wallace Stevens was born on this day, October 2, in 1879.   For me, Oct. 2 2017 is memorable as my 25th sobriety anniversary.  

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird


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.

Wallace Stevens, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright 1954 by Wallace Stevens. Reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.  Reposted here from  Thanks to local poet Sheila J. for forwarding this item to me. 

One thought on “Blackbird Poem by Wallace Stevens

  • You have a great website. I learn a lot from it (about the flora and fauna and the park in general), and your photographs and videos are beautiful. I visit César Chávez Park frequently (usually 3-5 times a week) and always have my camera with me.

    Regarding the Surf Scoter, I saw one recently. It had a bright orange patch on the bill. It was in the second week of May, I believe. It was in the water near the rocky bank below the area that had previously been closed off for the burrowing owls. Surf scoters seem to me to be very fast swimmers.

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