Senior poetry walk

Arts

Students in the English 6 Fall Elective Poetry class, Keats to Kanye, studied the works of Wallace Stevens by taking a peaceful and educational walk through Hartford. Throughout the course, the class studies the works of nine poets, as well as the works of many rappers. One renowned American poet that they have recently studied is Wallace Stevens.

   Stevens had never learned to drive and would always walk to his job at The Hartford insurance company. He lived in Hartford, CT and had a two and half mile commute along Asylum Avenue. During his walk, he would compose poems and stanzas in his head. One poem Stevens had composed was, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, and ten years ago, a non-profit organization called, Friends and Enemies of Wallace Stevens placed upon 13 granite markers along the path. Each marker contains a stanza from his poem, inscribed in it.

    A few weeks ago, the class, which is taught by English teacher Pamela Frye took this historical walk in Hartford. Each student in the class had to choose an inscribed stanza to memorize and recite it to the class and convey their thoughts on it. Ms. Frye said that by taking the path of Stevens’s daily commute, they were able to connect to his poems and really follow in his footsteps, to experience what he had experienced. The students also brought a plastic black bird to really connect with Stevens’ work and be more informative.

    She said that this field trip was great, because it is important to have a different routine, and also because it only takes one class period. “I think it is great that we have a great poet’s path in Hartford and we can walk in his footsteps,” she said. “There are houses all over New England where poets and writers lived, we can go into their homes, but it is really rare to have the opportunity to move through space, it is two and half miles of where he traveled every day.”

    Senior James Amenta is one of the students in the class and said that he really enjoyed reading and memorizing a stanza of the poem. He said that he liked the idea of really putting yourself in the poet’s shoes, to really understand his work. “It is actively learning and you are out experiencing what he experiencing, it is a breath of fresh air,” he said.

  Ms. Frye said that she thinks that field trips are always important for education and she hopes to continue having these field trips for the years to come. In Stevens’s poem, he includes places in Hartford, such as Elizabeth park, and Ms. Frye said that it is cool to read a poem and see your home described in ways you haven’t seen before. “I encourage people to read him, he’s really challenging, but a beautiful poet,” she said. “Once we read a poem about a place that is familiar to us, it changes that place for us.”

 

The Stanzas:

I

Among twenty snowy mountains,   

The only moving thing   

Was the eye of the blackbird.   

 

II

I was of three minds,   

Like a tree   

In which there are three blackbirds.   

 

III

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.   

It was a small part of the pantomime.   

 

IV

A man and a woman   

Are one.   

A man and a woman and a blackbird   

Are one.   

 

V

I do not know which to prefer,   

The beauty of inflections   

Or the beauty of innuendoes,   

The blackbird whistling   

Or just after.   

 

VI

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.   

 

VII

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?   

 

VIII

I know noble accents   

And lucid, inescapable rhythms;   

But I know, too,   

That the blackbird is involved   

In what I know.   

 

IX

When the blackbird flew out of sight,   

It marked the edge   

Of one of many circles.   

 

X

At the sight of blackbirds   

Flying in a green light,   

Even the bawds of euphony   

Would cry out sharply.   

 

XI

He rode over Connecticut   

In a glass coach.   

Once, a fear pierced him,   

In that he mistook   

The shadow of his equipage   

For blackbirds.   

 

XII

The river is moving.   

The blackbird must be flying.   

 

XIII

It was evening all afternoon.   

It was snowing   

And it was going to snow.   

The blackbird sat   

In the cedar-limbs.