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By Wallace Stevens

I

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.


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.

Poet Bio

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Wallace Stevens is one of most significant American poets of the 20th century. The consummate businessman-poet, Stevens had a successful career as a corporate lawyer when his first book of poems, Harmonium, was published in 1923. However, he did not receive widespread recognition from the literary community until the release of his Collected Poems in 1954.

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