23 Dec
Posted in: Poems, Practice
By    Comments Off on Look Again

Look Again

I’m still practicing the “Now I See” exercise I wrote about previously (here and here and here) in which I go to the St. Louis Art Museum, choose a piece of art that “catches my eye,” then look at it awhile and write a page about it in my journal beginning with the phrase: “Now I see…,” then go back a week or more later, look at it some more and write about it again, and then go back and look-and-write until I’ve done it 13 times.

It’s an amazing and enlightening exercise.

There’s nothing magic about doing it 13 times. It just needs to be done a few more times that you think you’ll be able to look at the same frickin’ thing and still be able to write about it!

Also, it’s inspired by this poem by Wallace Stevens, which I don’t exactly understand, but I keep returning to again and again:


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

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.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

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

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He road over Connecticut
In a glass couch.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbirds must be flying.

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

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