Thirteen Ways of Self-Questioning Essay

1374 Words Mar 9th, 2013 6 Pages
Thirteen Ways of Self-Questioning The poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” is written by Wallace Stevens. It contains thirteen sections; each section provides us a picture that is centered by the element of blackbird. Blackbird in the poem signifies people’s consciousness. So this poem wants to tell us that every person has a perspective to look at the world. It questions our process of thought to understand the world, and reminds us realize the problem of it. In “The Language of Paradox” by Cleanth Brooks, he introduces the notion of paradox and its application in poetry. In Stevens’ poem we can also find how he uses the device of paradox to raise the question for many times, and also the use of paradox leads us to …show more content…
He narrates: “It was evening all afternoon. / It was snowing / And it was going to snow / The blackbird sat / In the cedar-limbs” (XIII). Afternoon is before evening, but he says “it was evening all afternoon”. This should signify a passive attitude to life. Evening is the time that near to death in people’s lives, and he tells us even during the afternoon which is their declining period someone already live in the status of evening. It’s a typical instance of paradox in the last section of the poem. The language seems contradictory and not logical, but actually it is to draw our attention to the awareness of our thought. “It was snowing / And it was going to snow” shows us people’s foresight through their experience and observation of nature. So Stevens put the result before the foresight. After that he refers to the blackbird sat still in the cedar-limbs to indicate that in people’s old age the consciousness is not as active as its youth time. However, the experience we get in the whole life becomes precious possession and provides us the insight. The last section has a relation with section two: “I was of three minds, / Like a tree / In which there are three blackbirds” (II). The blackbirds in the tree always refer to our minds. So I am a tree, and I have three minds which are represented by three birds. In this section, Stevens probably suggest the three levels of people’s mind according to Freud’s “Id, ego and super-ego”

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