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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird


by Wallace Stevens

Imagining the Blackbird

Symbol Analysis

Well, the title pretty much says it all. The poem is about different ways to look at this bird, and several of them are highly symbolic and imaginative. The bird is basically an excuse for Stevens to get creative.

  • Section I: The hyperbole in this section is that the blackbird's eye is the only thing moving in a huge landscape with twenty mountains. Come on, not even a tree branch is vibrating somewhere? Hyperbole means "exaggeration."
  • Section VI: The end of this section contains highly symbolic language. The shadow of the blackbird relates to the "mood" of the icy day and hints at an "indecipherable cause." The cause of what?
  • Section IX: This section captures the image of the blackbird on the circumference of an infinite number of possible circles. Could the "one" circle represent the horizon as it appears to the speaker?
  • Section X: The image of a blackbird flying in green light produces a striking contrast. Those "bawds" don't even know what to do with themselves: Wow. Just…wow.

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