Bird words

For the dverse prompt.
Painting by Franz Marc.
Taking the quote à contre pied.

Franz_Marc-Birds_(Vögel)_(1914)

“As if we could hear music inside the words” Gail Newman from the poem Trust.

Wordless the songs
the fluted whistle swooping swift as light
flash-on-the-pane

grass quivers
branch trembles
and gone.

I strain in vain to hear the words
in the different strands of sound,
staves staked in morning grass dew-heavy,
booming with the memories
the shadows make
of night just past,

a harp chord echoing on the hills
where cocks crow unmusically
bullroarer and trumpet-voiced.

Wordless the songs to human ears
but what music, beak-tongued,

eloquent as stream babble,
hooved feet
tapping careful cadenzas,
squirrelled grace notes
tripping from tree to tree,
and the light pat-pat punctuation
of fox paws
through drifts of muddy leaves.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

44 thoughts on “Bird words”

  1. Oh, Jane, that ending. It just patters off with the fox into the undergrowth. It made me sigh. Lovely response to the prompt. I like a slightly contrary take on prompts. It appeals to my rebellious nature.

    1. Thanks! Actually, I didn’t even notice I was off track up the creek and running in the wrong direction until I’d written it. I don’t know if it’s rebellious or pig-headedness 🙂

  2. You chose the same prompt as me and presented us with the theatre of nature. I love the sounds of this poem, especially:

    squirrelled grace notes
    tripping from tree to tree,
    and the light pat-pat punctuation
    of fox paws

  3. This is absolutely lovely, Jane! I so love; “I strain in vain to hear the words in the different strands of sound, staves staked in morning grass dew-heavy, booming with the memories the shadows make
    of night just past,”… so poignant, so palpable in its underlying emotion. 💝

  4. My Beloved Sandra saw me moving my lips as I read, asked me what I was reading, so I hit the music’s mute button and recited this fine work out loud. It had the same effect on her as it did on me. We gaped, then sighed. She asked me to read it again. I gladly complied. Great stuff, JD!

    1. I’m pleased you enjoyed it Sherry. I get so much enjoyment from the wildlife. We put out all kinds of food at night, apart from the bird food, nuts, bread, dog and cat biscuit, fruit, vegetables, cooked rice, anything we give the dog in fact. (except the nuts). It’s all gone in the morning.

  5. I love what you did with this prompt! The sounds of the birds against the pane! The wordless songs of birds and the rythms of horses hooves! Beautifully done Jane!

  6. Like others, that last onomatopoeic stanza is a ripper – and in its hurrying it’s like coming upon the elusive fox, the squirrel, and all the creatures that have so intrigued the poet – and the reader – from dawn on that day. ‘beak-tongued’ is also very good.

    1. Thank you. I don’t see many people pass by here and when they do, it’s always the same, the old couple from the top of the hill, the old lad from the next farm along, a few walkers from the last houses in town. Very predictable. Animals are far more interesting and elusive.

      1. We’re on the flyway between a pelican rookery out on the island and their fishing grounds in the lakes – flights of them every morning heading one way; and reversed every evening – so close you hear their wings, their breathing.

      2. That must be quite something! I have only experience something a bit similar once, end of last year, a huge flock of wood pigeons, probably disturbed by the brain dead with guns, swooped across the field so low I could hear their wings beating. If that had been pelicans…!

  7. I love the spare use of compounds, Jane, that flutter through your poem, particularly ‘swift as light flash-on-the-pane’, ‘beak-tongued’ and the wonderfully alliterative ‘pat-pat punctuation’, as well as the other excellent sounds of nature. The lines that called out to me:
    ‘staves staked in morning grass dew-heavy,
    booming with the memories
    the shadows make
    of night just past’.

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