"Thirteen Ways Of Looking At a Blackbird" Analysis

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As our text attests, Wallace Stevens was born in 1879 and died in 1955. He attended Harvard Law School at the urging of his father who thought poetry was far from a practical pursuit. Stevens rose to prominence as an insurance bondsman in Connecticut, the setting of “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” (605-8). A self-proclaimed philosophical poet, Stevens was concerned with ideas more than things, as evidenced by the ontological musings of this poem. During the 1920’s when this poem was first published, the United States was just past WWI. It makes sense that poets would question the state of being in the world during this time and poets often did. Stevens was no different. While his poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” focuses on the single image of the blackbird, it also provides a way for the speaker to think about his/her place in this post-WWI world. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” is a series of fragmented images with seemingly no connection except the blackbird. Some critics have looked at this blackbird symbolically, as the poet’s vision with the other images representing the way the poet is changed by what he sees or thinks (“On”). But I choose to look at this poem as a revolutionary bit of modernistic poetry, a series of Imagistic fragments, each one representing the speaker’s random thoughts as he looks out at a blackbird. Since “the only moving thing is the eye of the blackbird” in stanza I, “among twenty snowy mountains”, it might be safe to assume the poet is still looking out at the same scene the whole time and imagining the blackbird in different scenarios since in stanza XIII “it was snowing and it was going to snow” as “the blackbird sat in the cedar limbs.” Within this cyclical movement, the speaker seems to be thinking about the blackbird in different ways, juxtaposing contrastive ideas along the way and

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