Tuesday, March 2, 2010

looking at blackbirds

early one morning

i walked
a light snow falling

little white feathers

above me
i saw two crows
sitting on a branch

looking into each other's eyes.

i watched them
looking at each other
for some time.

i thought the moment would break.

but the snowflakes fell
and a slight breeze came
and went

the three of us
locked in this
strange triangle

i turned to leave
and even as i looked back
they were still lost

given over
to their love


a few days after this event
i was wandering through the writing of wallace stevens
and came across his work "thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird."

i've selected these six meditations from the original thirteen.
the link at the bottom will direct you to a site that has the full thirteen
if you'd like to read them.



among twenty snowy mountains,
the only moving thing
was the eye of the black bird


i was of three minds,
like a tree
in which there are three blackbirds


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


the river is moving.
the blackbird must be flying


it was evening all afternoon.
it was snowing
and it was going to snow
the blackbird sat
in the cedar-limbs


Dan Gurney said...

Lovely, steven. (You must excuse me for wondering if you're some relation to wallace.)

Of late I've been transfixed, too, by black birds, especially crows. Crows and ravens, both have intelligence that seems to sparkle and crackle right out of them, like high-voltage electricity. When we lock eyes, I always wonder what they think of me. Earthbound? Clueless as to my connection to the natural world?

I checked out all 13 contemplations by stevens. I particularly resonated with this one:

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

Fianlly, I want you to know, in the background for the past quarter hour or so I've been listening to Sid Smith's podcast... thanks to you.

Linda Sue said...

Oh Steven- these are just wonderful! AND I absolutely LOVE the image of boy and bird- , had never heard of this Finnish artist before- so- thanks for that as well.Your posts always- so satisfying- like I've just been to the best feast and am now getting a massage...yummy. Thanks! Loved the previous post as well and the ideograms of grass on snow. LOVELY.I will be looking for the "thirteen ways."

Dave King said...

Excellent. Your observation stood well against Wallace Steven's, I thought. There is no higher praise.

Elisabeth said...

Crows, blackbirds, ravens. Wonderful words and images here, Steven. You're up there with the masters.

steven said...

dan - you're a brave man! sid has an eclectic ear and access to musics of all sorts through his work as a music reviewer and then also biographer to robert fripp and king crimson. i was especially drawn to the music of lisa o piu which i have linked through an image of her album on the sidebar. it is on frequent rotation her at golden fish world headquarters!! there's something about crows. i didn't notice them until a year or so ago as a creature that wants to say something. my dad told me many times that when an animal crosses your path in any way it is telling you something and that it is up to you to learn how to listen. thanks for this very generous comment dan. steven

Pauline said...

Carlos Castenada said a single crow is always an omen but we have to figure out what that omen is about...

I always read your Rumi quote on the masthead but it really struck me this morning that you are living it through this blog :)

Lorenzo said...

Beautiful. I was especially taken by meditation V:

"i do not know which to prefer,
the beauty of inflections
or the beauty of innuendoes,
the blackbird whistling
or just after"

steven said...

linda sue i was so drawn to the painting when i saw it that i knew i had to connect it to the story with the two blackbirds and then i came across stevens' poems all in amatter of days so it was meant to be. have a peaceful day. steven

steven said...

dave - you're right - there isn't. i feel unworthy but thankyou for your generosity. steven

steven said...

elisabeth - thankyou. it's hard to know how to respond other than to reiterate what i just said to daev - i feel unworthy but thankyou for your generosity!!! have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hello pauline - i read castaneda's work when i was in high school. it's a blur to me now - more of a colour and a flavour. but i recall the crow. the rumi quote - yes it's a gentle reminder to me and my visitors! steven

steven said...

lorenzo it's a gorgeous piece of writing and so insightful. he must have been amazing to know. have a peaceful day and thanks for visiting. steven

Anonymous said...

You are right up there with some great writers. I think you know that. I hope you can impart this knowledge or skill or both to your students.

Titus said...

Fabulous image and words steven, and incredibly apt for me at the moment as have been researching avian intelligence - and crows are right up there. Completely different brain structure to humans and apes, and yet they're tool-users who act with an eye to the future.
Really enjoyed this.

Golden West said...

Thanks for the introduction to a most talented artist! I'm off to look at more of his work...

Barry said...

The nature of things recently had an amazing documentary on crows, their ability to reason and their amazing memory for human faces.

Although the crows were locked on each other's gaze, I would not be surprised if you weren't also remembered.

ellen abbott said...

I have just plain run out of things to say. You soothe me.

We have crows/ravens/blackbirds at the country house.

Kathleen said...


Dervish said...

thank you for introducing me to this lovely bit of work. it reminds me of watching the blackbirds when i was in orkney...

isn't it funny how certain birds, and animals take on a mystical significance?