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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird


by Wallace Stevens

Section VIII Summary

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

Section VIII

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

  • Here's another semi-humorous, semi-serious section. The speaker says that he knows a lot about musical, rhythmic speech (poetry!), and that the blackbird is "involved" with his knowledge. Among other things, "involved" could mean "responsible for" or "related to."
  • He knows about the spoken "accents" of noble people, or the beats or "accents" or poetry, a noble activity.
  • He also knows rhythms that are clear and filled with light ("lucid"), so that you can't "escape" their beauty or compelling quality. It's like when you hear a song that has a beat you can't help tapping your foot along with.
  • So, the speaker knows all about these "higher" activities of music and speech, but he also recognizes that these "higher" activities are related to a small black creature with feathers that goes hopping around on trees.

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