Archive for the ‘Bird Poems’ Category

“The Eagle (A Fragment)” by Alfred Lord Tennyson

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands. 

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls, 
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

golden-eagle-in-flight
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“Albatross”

Dore-Albatross-RimeoftheAncientMariner

“At length did cross an albatross,

thorough the fog came;

as if it had been a Christian soul,

we hailed it in God’s name”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Rime of the Ancient Mariner

(drawing by Gustav Doré)

“Haiku for Gemma” by Jane Beal

DoveinLakewoodCA

slender mourning dove

descends from the gazebo

to the orange tree

jb

Lakewood, CA

“The Dipper” by Mary Oliver

AmericanDipper

Once I saw
in a quick-falling, white-veined stream,
among the leafed islands of the wet rocks,
a small bird, and knew it

from the pages of a book; it was
the dipper, and dipping he was,
as well as, sometimes, on a rock-peak, starting up
the clear, strong pipe of his voice; at this,

there being no words to transcribe, I had to
bend forward, as it were,
into his frame of mind, catching
everything I could in the tone,

cadence, sweetness, and briskness
of his affirmative report.
Though not by words, it was
a more than satisfactory way to the

bridge of understanding. This happened
in Colorado
more than half a century ago—
more, certainly, than half my lifetime ago—

and, just as certainly, he has been sleeping for decades
in the leaves beside the stream,
his crumble of white bones, his curl of flesh
comfortable even so.

And still I hear him—
and whenever I open the ponderous book of riddles
he sits with his black feet hooked to the page,
his eyes cheerful, still burning with water-love—

and thus the world is full of leaves and feathers,
and comfort, and instruction. I do not even remember
your name, great river,
but since that hour I have lived

simply,
in the joy of the body as full and clear
as falling water; the pleasures of the mind
like a dark bird dipping in and out, tasting and singing.

Mary Oliver

Note: On Thursday, July 6th, I gave a poetry reading at the John Natsoulas Gallery in downtown Davis. Afterwards, I was pleased to sit down and talk with Steve, a poet and a bird-watcher like myself. He mentioned this poem, “The Dipper,” by Mary Oliver in our conversation. Mary Oliver first saw the bird in Colorado, where Steve had also seen it. Though I have lived in Colorado, I have not yet seen the American Dipper in situ, bobbing and fishing in nature’s favorite stream. However, I have had a preview! The little bird is simply delightful.

p.s. John Muir loved the bird, which he called a water-thrush. He wrote of it: “THE waterfalls of the Sierra are frequented by only one bird, —the Ouzel or Water Thrush ( Cinclus Mexicanus). He is a singularly joyous and lovable little fellow, about the size of a robin, clad in a plain waterproof suit of bluish gray, with a tinge of chocolate on the head and shoulders. In form he is about as smoothly plump and compact as a pebble that has been whirled in a pot-hole, the flowing contour of his body being interrupted only by his strong feet and bill, the crisp wing-tips, and the up-slanted wren-like tail.”

“Baby Chicks in Larkspur” by Jane Beal

I went to Larkspur to have lunch with my friend
at a Thai food place with great coconut soup,

and while we were there, we heard music,
and followed it into a parade of people

celebrating spring, new life, and everything –
including baby chicks in a silver bucket

being adored by small children who were torn
between the birds and a tiny carousel

with horses painted bright
and beautifully.

jb

Uncaged (in progress)

“Lincoln’s Sparrow by the Napa River”

Muddy river, tall grass, Lincoln’s sparrow singing –
I pause at the sound, lean on the railing, and look:

I see you, tiny and beautiful,
but when you see me,
you stop singing.

Sing again, little one –
I am walking away, and you
are safe in the world!

Jane Beal
Uncaged (in progress)

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“Byrne-Jones and his Birds”

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BYRNE-JONES AND HIS BIRDS 

Not everyone gets to open the Kelmskott Chaucer
on Valentine’s Day, and see the woodcuts
Byrne-Jones made of Constance, adrift in her boat,
with the seagulls wheeling over the waves,
but I did: she is looking back, over
her shoulder – her hands are clasped in prayer –
and twenty-six white birds surround her
like promises or grief.

jb

2/14
McCune Room
JFK Library
Vallejo
CA