Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wallace Stevens: “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, Part II

Continuing, in honor of National Poetry Month, our discussion of Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, I’d like to take a few moments with my other favorite stanza, the last one, Stanza XIII:

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

This verse comes to my mind often whenever I have time that I just have to pass. A rainy Saturday when I can’t work in the yard, a time when I’m sick and feel bad, or a boring meeting that I have to endure all bring it to my mind (although since I’ve moved to Texas, I often remember it as “It was raining; And it was going to rain”).

The bird in the tree, protected beneath the cedar limbs is the image of patient endurance. It can’t move until the snow stops, and the snow shows no signs of stopping. I think of it hunkered down within itself at the mercy of outside events over which it has no control. I find in this image the proper attitude (at least for me) to take in the face of unpleasant times of waiting.

There are simply times in life when you can’t do anything but wait. If you have to wait, then I think it is best to do so as unemotionally as possible. Frustration or anger won’t accomplish anything. Go inside yourself and wait for the time to pass.

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