Helen Vendler

As a long-time professor of English, I would humbly suggest that those of you who are looking for interpretive help with this poem for an academic project read Helen Vendler's commentary. Helen Vendler, professor at Boston University, is a renowned poetry scholar. I understand this automatically makes her suspect for some of you. As a political pundit recently stated, in America these days, someone who has devoted years of study to a complex subject or issue and, therefore, actually knows something about it is considered a phony. (Not a direct quote, btw). Of course, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," a poem I have always found haunting, can be interpreted at least thirteen ways and enjoyed and appreciated on different levels and from different perspectives, and the Taoist readings make perfect sense (if Taoist readings are supposed to make sense). I'm just sayin' that if you are writing about the poem for school, Helen Vendler is far and away a more credible source than Jeremy Chapman. Of course, her piece is an actual essay, which requires some time and attention to read.


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