Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Poetry and Prose of a Feathery Nature

Ever since I was a little girl,
I've always loved to read.
And write.
And eat chocolate.

Now that you add birds into the mix, I like to read about birds while eating chocolate. 
And, now that I'm not a little girl, I occasionally add wine to the mix. Occasionally.

Anyway, sometimes I do this thing where I grab a book off the shelf, 
close my eyes,
and flip through the pages until it feels right to stop.
I think my mom may have taught me this.

Then I open my eyes and read whatever is there.

I was playing this game recently with a large volume of Robert Frost poetry,
when I aptly happened upon this one (one which I never remember reading before):

He would declare and could himself believe
That the birds there in all the garden round
From having heard the daylong voice of Eve
Had added to their own an oversound,
Her tone of meaning but without the words.
Admittedly an eloquence so soft
Could only have had an influence on birds
When call or laughter carried it aloft.
Be that as may be, she was in their song.
Moreover her voice upon their voices crossed
Had now persisted in the woods so long
That probably it never would be lost.
Never again would birds' song be the same.
And to do that to birds was why she came.
Then I thought to myself,
Rumi must have poems about birds too.
And about this I was right.
(Rumi is my favorite poet thus far).
Here is one of his poems, translated by Coleman Barks:

Your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror
up to where you're bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here's the joyful face you've been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small
Contracting and expanding,

the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.  

Since 3's always a good number, I figured I could probably find among my bookshelves a third bird poem. And so I close this thrilling trifecta with a few lines from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven"

But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour,
Nothing farther then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

Maybe birds represent beauty,
or perhaps strength and exquisite design.
Maybe they conjure up something delicate, feminine...
or something dark and foreboding.

I think birds can be all these things, along with many others.
As long as people keep writing about birds and adding new perspectives,
I know I'll keep reading.

1 comment:

  1. Yay, new post! Ravens are my favorite. Poe was so overdone at my university I kinda forgot I love him.