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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

by Wallace Stevens

Man and the Natural World Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird. (Section I)

You could imagine this opening as a scene in a film that begins in a huge white landscape and slowly zooms in on a tiny black speck until the blackbird comes into view, and then keeps zooming until the whole screen is filled with the bird's eye. See! It twitched!

Quote #2

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime. (Section III)

Little did we humans know, but there's the equivalent of a Broadway show going on at every moment out in the nature. The random activities of nature are compared to bit roles in a theatrical performance. The speaker views nature through the eyes of culture.

Quote #3

Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you? (Section VII)

This section implies that a blackbird is just as good as some hoity-toity "golden bird." When you think about it, the value of gold is really cultural: we think of gold as beautiful because it's rare and exceptional. We often neglect the commonplace beauties that can be found everywhere.

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