Sunday, April 12, 2009

light, blackbirds, air

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Light in the blossom.

Thanks to The Crow who settles on this blog from time, I have been reading a short poem by the American poet Wallace Stevens that was new to me. I mentioned Stevens in one of those blog discussions that occur from time to time (the more the better as far as I am concerned). I have always liked his poems and a long time ago reconciled myself to the obscurity of his references and their apparent lack of coherence. Fellow blogger, Barrett Bonden, in a different discussion with me describes Stevens' approach perceptively in this way: "Each step is hugely inventive" he says, "In fact its so complex that I get the feeling that the pieces have been lying around for ages, and his sole act of creation has been to bring them together. The poem to some extent has preexisted." The poem to which The Crow drew my attention is Thirteen way of looking at a blackbird. Each of the ways, described in thirteen brief stanzas, is mysterious and yet solid and composed of simple images; and, as Barrett might agree, seems to belong to some system of belief or culture that has always been there.
Stanza 2 for example is:
I was of three minds
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
Stanza nine is:
When the blackbird flew out of sight
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.
Stanza 12 has the condensed quality of a haiku.
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

In the Grove this morning, it is warm; it is raining and not raining. The air smells of the oils and resins which buds release as they open.


The Crow said...

My daughter was looking over my shoulder as I was reading your post today, Joe, and she asked me if you were a professional photographer. I said I thought you weren't but that you had an abiding interest in it, as well as a good eye for it. She looked at several others you've posted here.

"Mom," she said, "he should enter these in competitions!"

Seems you have collected another fan.


I am glad to read of your and Mister B's conversation about Wallace Stevens' blackbird poem. Helps me appreciate his poetry more.

Joe said...

No, Crow, senior and junior, I'm not a pro. I just point the camera and hope.

I'm never entirely sure about Wallace Stevens. But every time I go back to him I find something that I like and which hangs about in my mind, even if I can't always explain why.