Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings
(inquiry before snow
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Sang from the Heart, Sire,
Dipped my Beak in it,
If the Tune drip too much
Have a tint too Red
Pardon the Cochineal --
Suffer the Vermillion --
Death is the Wealth
Of the Poorest Bird.
Bear with the Ballad --
Awkward -- faltering --
Death twists the strings --
'Twasn't my blame --
Pause in your Liturgies --
Wait your Chorals --
While I repeat your
Hallowed name --
Birds are flyin' south for winter.
Here's the Weird-Bird headin' north,
Wings a-flappin', beak a-chatterin',
Cold head bobbin' back 'n' forth.
He says, "It's not that I like ice
Or freezin' winds and snowy ground.
It's just sometimes it's kind of nice
To be the only bird in town.
It makes no difference abroad --
The Seasons -- fit -- the same --
The Mornings blossom into Noons --
And split their Pods of Flame --
Wild flowers -- kindle in the Woods --
The Brooks slam -- all the Day --
No Black bird bates his Banjo --
For passing Calvary --
Auto da Fe -- and Judgment --
Are nothing to the Bee --
His separation from His Rose --
To Him -- sums Misery --
In alien lands I keep the body
Of ancient native rites and things:
I gladly free a little birdie
At celebration of the spring.
I'm now free for consolation,
And thankful to almighty Lord:
At least, to one of his creations
I've given freedom in this world!
Without this -- there is nought --
All other Riches be
As is the Twitter of a Bird --
Heard opposite the Sea --
I could not care -- to gain
A lesser than the Whole --
For did not this include themself --
As Seams -- include the Ball?
I wished a way might be
My Heart to subdivide --
'Twould magnify -- the Gratitude --
And not reduce -- the Gold --
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Repeat that, repeat,
Cuckoo, bird, and open ear wells, heart-springs, delightfully sweet,
With a ballad, with a ballad, a rebound
Off trundled timber and scoops of the hillside ground, hollow hollow hollow ground:
The whole landscape flushes on a sudden at a sound.
A Lady red -- amid the Hill
Her annual secret keeps!
A Lady white, within the Field
In placid Lily sleeps!
The tidy Breezes, with their Brooms --
Sweep vale -- and hill -- and tree!
Prithee, My pretty Housewives!
Who may expected be?
The Neighbors do not yet suspect!
The Woods exchange a smile!
Orchard, and Buttercup, and Bird --
In such a little while!
And yet, how still the Landscape stands!
How nonchalant the Hedge!
As if the "Resurrection"
Were nothing very strange!
R S Thomas
under a shower
Fifty years passed,
in a world in
servitude to time.
She was young;
I kissed with my eyes
closed and opened
them on her wrinkles.
`Come,' said death,
choosing her as his
the last dance, And she,
who in life
had done everything
with a bird's grace,
opened her bill now
for the shedding
of one sigh no
heavier than a feather.
I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;
Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.
The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.
And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.
The sun has set, and the long grass now
Waves dreamily in the evening wind;
And the wild bird has flown from that old gray stone
In some warm nook a couch to find.
In all the lonely landscape round
I see no light and hear no sound,
Except the wind that far away
Come sighing o'er the healthy sea.
The Doomed -- regard the Sunrise
With different Delight --
Because -- when next it burns abroad
They doubt to witness it --
The Man -- to die -- tomorrow --
Harks for the Meadow Bird --
Because its Music stirs the Axe
That clamors for his head --
Joyful -- to whom the Sunrise
Precedes Enamored -- Day --
Joyful -- for whom the Meadow Bird
Has ought but Elegy!
Percy Bysshe Shelley
A WIDOW bird sate mourning for her Love
Upon a wintry bough;
The frozen wind crept on above
The freezing stream below.
There was no leaf upon the forest bare.
No flower upon the ground
And little motion in the air
Except the mill-wheel's sound.
Why make so much of fragmentary blue
In here and there a bird, or butterfly,
Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,
When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?
Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet)--
Though some savants make earth include the sky;
And blue so far above us comes so high,
It only gives our wish for blue a whet.
My sleeping children are still flying dreams
in their goose-down heads.
The lush of the river singing morning songs
Fish watch their ceilings turn sun-white.
The grey-green pike lances upstream
Kale, like mermaid's hair
points the water's drift.
All is morning hush
and bird beautiful.
I didn't have flu.
An as it's going often at love's breaking,
The ghost of first days came again to us,
The silver willow through window then stretched in,
The silver beauty of her gentle branches.
The bird began to sing the song of light and pleasure
To us, who fears to lift looks from the earth,
Who are so lofty, bitter and intense,
About days when we were saved together.
Caught -- the bubble
in the spirit level,
a creature divided;
and the compass needle
wobbling and wavering,
Freed -- the broken
and the rainbow-bird
from the narrow bevel
of the empty mirror,
it feels like, gay!
The sky is laced with fitful red,
The circling mists and shadows flee,
The dawn is rising from the sea,
Like a white lady from her bed.
And jagged brazen arrows fall
Athwart the feathers of the night,
And a long wave of yellow light
Breaks silently on tower and hall,
And spreading wide across the wold
Wakes into flight some fluttering bird,
And all the chestnut tops are stirred,
And all the branches streaked with gold.
To outer senses there is peace,
A dreamy peace on either hand
Deep silence in the shadowy land,
Deep silence where the shadows cease.
Save for a cry that echoes shrill
From some lone bird disconsolate;
A corncrake calling to its mate;
The answer from the misty hill.
And suddenly the moon withdraws
Her sickle from the lightening skies,
And to her sombre cavern flies,
Wrapped in a veil of yellow gauze.
After all Birds have been investigated and laid aside --
Nature imparts the little Blue-Bird -- assured
Her conscientious Voice will soar unmoved
Above ostensible Vicissitude.
First at the March -- competing with the Wind --
Her panting note exalts us -- like a friend --
Last to adhere when Summer cleaves away --
Elegy of Integrity.
A lane of Yellow led the eye
Unto a Purple Wood
Whose soft inhabitants to be
If Bird the silence contradict
Or flower presume to show
In that low summer of the West
Impossible to know --
William Henry Davies
While joy gave clouds the light of stars,
That beamed wher'er they looked;
And calves and lambs had tottering knees,
Excited, while they sucked;
While every bird enjoyed his song,
Without one thought of harm or wrong--
I turned my head and saw the wind,
Not far from where I stood,
Dragging the corn by her golden hair,
Into a dark and lonely wood.
Lie on the ground and listen to the grass,
Hear the silent signals from outer space,
Dream by making and make by dreaming,
Feel what the trees bathed in sunlight feel,
Gaze far to see the sea-gull emerging from the sea,
Imagine that today is the birth of the world and greet it,
Greet the old bird.
I cannot tell you how it was,
But this I know: it came to pass
Upon a bright and sunny day
When May was young; ah, pleasant May!
As yet the poppies were not born
Between the blades of tender corn;
The last egg had not hatched as yet,
Nor any bird foregone its mate.
I cannot tell you what it was,
But this I know: it did but pass.
It passed away with sunny May,
Like all sweet things it passed away,
And left me old, and cold, and gray.