Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Fourteenth Way of Looking at a Blackbird

In 2011 several thousand blackbirds mysteriously fell from the sky in Arkansas. Prompting a storm of conspiracy theories concerning everything from weather modification to tests of electromagnetic pulse weapons. My suspicions of something nefarious being afoot were allayed soon after by hearing several credible ornithologists state that it's not a particularly uncommon phenomenon. It happens several times every year all over the globe. 


Last week the Baltimore Ravens beat the Houston Texans to advance to the AFC Championship game. One more win and they will advance to the Super Bowl. The team is named for the creation of a poet, but I doubt many of the hardcore football fans know that. Still, something about that tickles my sensibilities.


There is no real difference between a crow, a raven, and a blackbird. Only size. 


Earlier this week a mysterious figure who showed up every year at Poe's grave to make a toast to the writer failed to show up for the third straight year. 


I wrote this Haiku when I heard the news story about the blackbirds of Arkansas. The font is, of course, a Gothic font called Uberholme. And as all readers of poetry know, the inspiration for the poem is Wallace Steven's poem Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird. Here's what I did with a Tiny Drawing I remember Jenny had drawn earlier in the year...

And here is what a master of poetry did with the subject

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains, 
The only moving thing 
Was the eye of the blackbird.

II 
I was of three minds, 
Like a tree 
In which there are three blackbirds.

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

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

I do not know which to prefer, 
The beauty of inflections 
Or the beauty of innuendoes, 
The blackbird whistling 
Or just after.

VI 
Icicles filled the long window 
With barbaric glass. 
The shadow of the blackbird 
Crossed it, to and fro. 
The mood 
Traced in the shadow 
An indecipherable cause.

VII 
O thin men of Haddam, 
Why do you imagine golden birds? 
Do you not see how the blackbird 
Walks around the feet 
Of the women about you?

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

IX 
When the blackbird flew out of sight, 
It marked the edge 
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds 
Flying in a green light, 
Even the bawds of euphony 
Would cry out sharply.

XI 
He rode over Connecticut 
In a glass coach. 
Once, a fear pierced him, 
In that he mistook 
The shadow of his equipage 
For blackbirds.

XII 
The river is moving. 
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII 
It was evening all afternoon. 
It was snowing 
And it was going to snow. 
The blackbird sat 
In the cedar-limbs.    
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