13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Environmental educators could use the following poem to inspire a fun, nature-based creative writing activity – e.g., students write their own poems using the same formula ( “X ways of looking at Y”). It could be used as a way to teach that birds and other things in nature aren’t just something with a physical appearance – they are actors that play an active role in nature. They are influenced by, and influence, other things in the environment. Some things may even have meaning outside of an ‘environmental’ context – with symbolic aspects that would be interesting to explore. Students could also make artwork to go along with it. One day!

alisonstephen_blackbirds2

I
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.

V
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.

X
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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2 thoughts on “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

    • Time sure does fly – something I’ve been realizing lately! Maybe one day I’ll make a more regular habit of reflecting/writing/blogging (rather than just posting so randomly)! 🙂

      Which reminds me of this quote, which you might like (as another writer): “We don’t learn from our experiences. We learn from reflecting on our experiences.”

      It’s a nice one. 🙂

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