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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

by Wallace Stevens

Analysis: Speaker

The speaker is a nature lover and a fan of Asian art and literature. He's also like a narrator in a documentary film that keeps shifting from place to place. One minute he's spying on the blackbird near snowy mountains, the next minute he's kneeling in the middle of the road to investigate birds from ground level. He has a habit of talking in riddles that no one except him could fully understand. He turns to you and says, "I'm having a really tough time making this decision, and I want your opinion: boxers or briefs; wait, no, I mean, inflections or innuendos?" And he says something about the blackbird whistling, at which point we shrug our shoulders and wander away. Did we mention that the speaker is kind of indecisive?

He seems to live in Connecticut, and the Nutmeg State appears to be the center of his universe. His attachment to his immediate surroundings is probably related to his belief that people should appreciate the beauty in front of them, rather than pining after mythical or exotic fictions. In this way, he's kind of a realist. At the same time, he doesn't think people should settle for soothing experiences as opposed to challenging, intense beauty.

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