Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Blackbird Poem By Wallace Stevens Summary, Notes And Line By Line Analysis In English

In this poem, the poet looks at a blackbird in thirteen different ways. Each method evokes particular feelings in the reader, showing us the importance of different perspectives.

About the Poet

Wallace Stevens (1879 – 1955) was an American poet who wrote modernist poetry. He went to law school and worked as an executive most of his life. In 1955, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.


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.

The poet says that amidst twenty snowy mountains, the only thing that was moving was the eye of the blackbird. The poet was of three minds, thinking three different things, like a tree which has three blackbirds. The blackbird danced about in the autumn winds, it was a small part of the theatrical stage that is autumn. A man and a woman are one, a man and a woman and a blackbird are one- by this the poet means that all creatures are one before nature.


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?

The poet does not know whether to prefer the beauty of inflections or the beauty of innuendos- whether to prefer the blackbird whistling or the silence that comes just after that. Icicles that filled the long window resemble barbaric glass.

The shadow of the blackbird fluttered across it, but the mood that this shadow reflected could not be deciphered. The poet asks the thin men of Haddam why they imagine golden birds, and whether they do not see how the blackbird walks around the feet of the women around them.


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.

The poet says that he knows noble accents and fluid rhythms that one cannot escape, but he also knows that the blackbird is involved in what he knows, stressing how nature is a part of all knowledge. When the blackbird flew out of sight, it marked the edge of one of many circles that bind the reality we know of. At the sight of blackbirds flying in a green light, even bawdy people who take pleasure in cheap thrills would cry out sharply in wonder.


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.

A man rode over Connecticut in a glass coach. One time, he was gripped with fear because he mistook the shadow of his equipment for blackbirds. The river is moving, so the blackbird must be in flight. The poet says that it was dark all afternoon, making it look like the evening. It was snowing and it was going to snow more. All the while, the blackbird sat in the branches or limbs of the cedar tree.