The bright obvious

blogging, poetry, Thoughts

My thanks go to my blogging friend across the pond, Martha Stephens who left a comment on my last blog.  I had posted a verse from the poem below accompanied simply by a photograph of mine.  I think Martha was saying ‘Why do that?’ , and on consideration I thought she had a point.  I was taking one verse out of the context of the poem, thus destroying the central point that the poet was making.  So I humbly correct that position and quote the poem in its beautiful entirety.

from 'New York Times Book Review '

from ‘New York Times Book Review

I am no literary critic, I simply read what I like and sometimes I share what I like because I want it to spread in its influence. Listening to Radio 4 I heard a poet quote another poet describing poetry as ‘language in orbit.’  Brilliant.  And listening elsewhen, someone was articulating what I had thought for a long time – that novels can tell us more about the human experience than self help books, and even more than neurology can.  Storytelling is in our D.N. A. let’s not forget.  Back to Wallace Stevens then, who is a self professed philosophical poet, interested in the human experience, and sharing with us the understanding that life is faceted, each living thing having different potentials to experience the same world in different ways. Enjoy.

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.


2 thoughts on “The bright obvious

  1. I am really interested in that quote from Stevens about how people read poetry, listening for familiar echoes. That pretty well describes how I read, sort of splashing around childishly, so it seems to me, and I’ve felt apologetic about it, but now I feel almost affirmed! I clicked over to your blog after reading your comment on The Task at Hand, and think I will do some more browsing around here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know exactly what you mean! I have always loved Keats too, and he had a theory of mind called negative capability. It is apparent to me that the most creative work I do is when I am blissed out, not really conscious in an intellectual sense. We are very strange creatures are we not?Thank you for reading and commenting – it means a lot to me.


I like to hear from you, so tell me what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s