Thirteen Ways To Kill A Blackbird Analysis

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Thirteen Ways to Kill a Blackbird is a poem by Wallace Stevens which explores and highlights the perceptions of humans to our surroundings and the multitude of ways in which these can be perceived. It does this by having each of the thirteen stanzas in the poem portray and examine a new way in which the blackbird is viewed by the speaker. This poem uses a haiku style, which Stevens was particularly interested in.

Haiku poems traditionally have three lines with five, seven and five syllables respectively. This poem however does not. The thirteen “short line free verse” stanzas are often associated with the traditional Haiku (Antonio José Jiménez Muñoz, 2013). Therefore the poem consists of, in essence, 13 haiku like poems. Haiku includes a
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Stevens further describes the birds movements as a pantomime. A pantomime is defined as “An absurdly exaggerated piece of behaviour:” (Oxford Dictionary, 2015). This suggests that the birds body was getting flung around by the wind in a way that was much more extreme due to to harsh winds. This stanza also moves the poem from winter to autumn.

It could easily be thought that stanza four refers to a sexual experience in the line “A man and woman are one”. The stanza carries on to say that “ A man and a woman and a blackbird are one”, this shows that the speaker views the life of a blackbird and the life of humans as equal.

Stanza five refers to the speakers confusion once more. The speaker is in two minds abut whether he prefers “inflections” or “innuendos” . These correspond to the sound the blackbird makes when it whistles and the silence that follows that, respectively ( Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008)

Stanza six speaks of “barbaric icicles” , an unfamiliar association as ice is not usually seen as barbaric. This could refer to the pointed, sharp, piercing edges that hanging icicles have. The “indecipherabel cause” could be the shadow of the blackbird which, if we didn't know as the reader that the shadow was a blackbird would be otherwise unknown to the person seeing the shadow from the inside of the

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