Bright Wings

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-11-15
  • Publisher: Columbia Univ Pr
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Poet laureate Billy Collins joins David Sibley, America's foremost bird illustrator, to celebrate the singular muse that has inspired so much poetry since the invention of the form. From Catullus and Chaucer to Robert Browning and James Wright, birds have served as a powerful metaphor for beauty, escape, transcendence, and song, expressing and embodying a poet's deepest longings and ineffable desires. Birds are, in effect, longtime collaborators of the poet's art.In this irresistible anthology, more than one hundred poems by poets throughout history are combined with sixty original illustrations in ornithological detail. Part poetry collection, part field guide, this work will appeal to readers who enjoy poetry and appreciate a visual interpretation of verse, and it will attract nature lovers who value a richer understanding of their objects of study. Carefully selected and species-specific, these poems and pictures enhance our experience with the "bright wings" that surround us.Poets include: Elizabeth Bishop Robert Browning Catullus Amy Clampitt William Cowper Linda Gregg Eamon Grennan Brenda Hillman Thomas Hardy Seamus Heaney John Hollander Kathleen Jamie John Keats Howard Nemerov Mary Oliver Sylvia Plath Delmore Schwartz Charles Simic Wallace Stevens Anne Stevenson Henry David Thoreau John Updike Robert Penn Warren Richard Wilbur William Carlos Williams


From the Introduction:

The phenomenon of poems about birds extends from the earliest evidence of writing to a poetry workshop that might have been held last night. To follow the trajectory of these poems is to observe the persistence of the human fascination with these things with feathers-as Emily Dickinson called hope-who have always amazed us with their ability both to fly and sing. The poet envies the spiritual and imaginative liberation suggested by the bird's flight; and birdsong leaves him with the desire to sing as naturally and beautifully in his own lyric. By combining a rich set of poems about birds with illustrations by the illustrious David Sibley and then adding the kind of practical information about birding normally found only in field guides, the editors have provided the reader with pleasures that are literary, pictorial, and scientific.

The CardinalBy Henry Carlile

Not to conform to any other color is the secret of being colorful.

He shocks us when he flies like a red verb over the snow. He sifts through the blue evenings to his roost.

He is turning purple. Soon he'll be black.

In the bar's dark I think of him. There are no cardinals here.

Only a woman in a red dress.

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