—-April, as many of you know, is National Poetry Month, and Serena from Savvy Verse & Wit organized a national blog tour in celebration. Although the month is nearly over, you can check out the schedule here and visit all the other poets who have contributed. Don’t miss out!
—-I’m still not quite sure how I stumbled upon the opportunity to be a part of this unique event, but I agreed to host a leg of the tour and showcase some bird poems.
—-Poetry, for me is something that should be full of life and powerful, able to lift you to new heights of wonder and give a fresh perspective on the world below:
Poems are like birds, the words fly free;
Even caged they sing a different tune:
The avid watcher knows them all by name,
While casual observer invents new.
And so it is with readers far and wide,
When drinking in the fountain that is art,
Some poems fall unwanted by wayside,
While others make their nests inside your heart.
So come with open eyes and open ears,
Drink deep, unlocking heart and mind and soul.
Hear not dividing critic’s mocking voice,
Until you’ve read the poem in its whole.
And pinion not the birds with your opinions,
But rather pluck dropped feathers from the ground.
In secret boxes store these hidden treasures
That memories, sweet pleasures, may abound.
—-Many poets have found inspiration in the skies and drawn on feathered friends for words to say. Here is an example of a concrete poem done by the profound George Herbert:
—-Herbert uses the birds as a metaphor for his spiritual journey, using the concrete form to not only represent two birds, but also to portray the falling and rising nature he is pleading for.
—-A more straightforward approach, perhaps, comes from Edna St. Vincent Millay in her wonderful poem:
I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.
And what did I see I had not seen before?
Only a question less or a question more;
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.
Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,
House without air, I leave you and lock your door.
Wild swans, come over the town, come over
The town again, trailing your legs and crying!
—-There is a lot of beautiful imagery and open metaphors in this poem, a stirring picture of wild swans in their free flight contrasted to her feelings of being stifled.
—-Bird poetry does not always draw on the beautiful, though, as William Butler Yeats shows in his poem:
Leda and the Swan
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.
How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?
A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
————————————-Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?
—-This is a terrifying picture of Zeus’s attack on Leda, a quite different use of the raw power in bird form.
—-There are so many other poems I could share, but I hope I have at least given you a taste of the avian-themed poetry (tastes like chicken, perhaps?)
—-Hungry for more? Check out Poe’s “The Raven”, Jeffers’s “Hurt Hawks”, Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, etc.
Some of my bird-related posts: Naturalinguist, Covenantal Crows, The Flock
—-What is your favorite bird poem?