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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Poetry XXXVI -- Textbook Poetry 3.7

Section VII wore me out.  I was interested for the first six poems, as all were about birds, and I thought perhaps an interesting and perhaps poetic motif might emerge.  Nope.  Just six excellent poems on birds and then – pff! – hodge-podge, and, as hodge-podge goes, bland.  Oh well.  Not bothering with the last poem of the book.  It annoyed me, and it’s long.  Instead three bird poems, all new to me and all quite enjoyable.  (Corbies are crows or ravens, by the way.)

An Approach to Literature
Brooks, Purser, Warren

The Twa Corbies
As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies makin a mane;
The tane unto the ither say,
"Whar sall we gang and dine the-day?"

"In ahint yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies a new slain knight;
And nane do ken that he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound an his lady fair."

"His hound is tae the huntin gane,
His hawk tae fetch the wild-fowl hame, 
His lady's tain anither mate,
So we may mak oor dinner swate."

"Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I'll pike oot his bonny blue een;
Wi ae lock o his gowden hair 
We'll theek oor nest whan it grows bare."

"Mony a one for him makes mane,
But nane sall ken whar he is gane;
Oer his white banes, whan they are bare,
The wind sall blaw for evermair."

The Oven Bird
Robert Frost
There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing. 

William Carlos Williams
My townspeople, beyond in the great world,
Are many with whom it were far more
Profitable for me to live than here with you.
These whirr about me calling, calling!
And for my own part I answer them loud as I can,
But they, being free pass!
I remain! Therefore, listen!
For you will not soon have another singer

First I say this: You have seen
The strange birds, have you not, that sometimes
Rest upon our river in winter?
Let them cause you to think well then of the storms
That drive many to shelter. These things
Do not happen without reason.

And next thing I say is this:
I saw an eagle once circling against the clouds
Over one of our principal churches
Easter, it was a beautiful day!
Three gulls came from above the river
And crossed slowly seaward!
Oh, I know you have your own hymns, I have heard them
And because I knew they invoked some great protector
I could not be angry with you, no matter
How much they outraged true music

You see, it is not necessary for us to leap at each other,
And, as I told you, in the end
The gulls moved seaward very quietly.


  1. "The question ... is what to make of a diminished thing." Can't tell you how many times I've wondered this.

  2. I really love that poem of Frost's--you know, the more I read it.


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