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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird


by Wallace Stevens

Section IV Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Section IV

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

  • You get the sense that Stevens is just riffing throughout this poem, the poetic version of a virtuoso jazz solo. Many of the sections are radical departures from what came before. Like this one.
  • We find this section very funny. We can't help but think of a man and a woman sharing an, um, intimate moment in bed, when all of a sudden a blackbird pops out from underneath the covers . How do you picture what's going on in this stanza?
  • It's clear how a man and a woman could become "one." That's how people often describe the experience of love or the institution of marriage. There's even a Spice Girls song called "2 Become 1." But the addition of the blackbird might cause you to reevaluate what he means by "becoming one."

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