13 Blackbirds

I finally got around to doing something I’ve always thought about– illustrating the poem “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” by Wallace Stevens (1917).

16 x 16 inches, Ink and Acrylic on gesso board.

13 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.



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3 Responses to 13 Blackbirds

  1. Ruth says:

    Das ist wunderschön! Du bist eine erstaunlichere Künstlerin, Alis! Herzlichen Glückwunsch, gute Arbeit! Next poem to illustrate, in German, to remember our crazy days attending to Lesungen in Berlin… 😉


    I like the poetic + illustrative theme! Very nice!

  3. Coffeebird says:

    I like it. The poem practically asks people to create a series of illustrations around it. Very nice implementation, and all the better that the stanzas / tableaus are not in order.

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