Vendler finds in the opening section the significance of consciousness. She sees the blackbird's eye as "moving" in the emotional sense, a variant of the Rubaiyat's "moving finger" that transcribes an otherwise lifeless universe. Vendler also notes that, through this section, the poem opens impersonally (11, 15).
In the first section, Peter McNamara notes the contrast presented between the blackbird and its inanimate background of "twenty snowy mountains" as a way of suggesting "the concept that death and life are one and that the potentiality of death exists in all living things." From this, McNamara understands the overall message of "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" to be that of "man's self-satisfied neglect of nature"; since the speaker is "convinced that pleasure in nature is the only reward in a life that terminates in death, the poet emphasizes the importance of delving into life and seeing, understanding, and enjoying it fully." This theme of reveling in what life has to offer (and not allowing one's self to become caught up in all the other unimportant "ideas about the thing" which man has become so preoccupied with) is seen throughout Stevens' canon in such works as "A High-Toned Old Christian Woman" and, most famously, "Sunday Morning" (446).
Lewis' interpretation of the image presented by Stevens in this first section is that it is one of "description rather than superposition." Although the wording of the opening three lines presents the scene as though the speaker sees the image of "twenty snowy mountains" and the "eye of the blackbird" at once, it may be interpreted as a sequence of images (that of someone slowly scanning a snowy, mountainous landscape) presented as one (67).
Bogen mentions in her article the similarities between section one and the Japanese art of haiku, noting both that the section is of three lines, and that in alluding to a season (in this case, winter) it incorporates kigo (217).