Songbirds after the Lyric
From the window, that casual warble
and chatter of unseen birds, clustered
somewhere amongst the leaves,
like an occasional question mark
punctuating the crisp prose of
the morning light, now enjambed
with their lines of flight. I try to scribe
the range of their avian dialogue –
that fast paced clatter against the air
their drawn out call-outs from branch
to fence, those deep inquisitive squalls
those melancholy cries scrawled
across the dawn-scrubbed sky.
A futile exercise in ham-fisted mimickry
to utter this untranslatable echo in my tone-deaf ear
of birds whose names I don't even know.
Coleridge and Shelley had the nightingale
and the skylark, Dickinson the bluebird
Hopkins the windhover and woodlark –
but why try to personify?
I resist their apostrophising and
content myself with eavesdropping
on the wordless lyric exchange
of these anonymous backyard birds.
Paul Dawson: My first book of poems, Imagining Winter (2006), won the national IP Picks Best Poetry Award, and my work has been anthologized in Contemporary Asian Australian Poets (2013) and Harbour City Poems (2009). My poetry appears in journals such as Meanjin, Island, Southerly, Overland, Cordite and Australian Poetry Journal. I teach in the School the Arts and Media at UNSW.