Jul 1, 2012

Mockingbirds, The Lennon Sisters, Judith Harris' Poem

Mockingbird by Judith Harris : The Poetry Foundation


Hannah Stephenson said...

Poets and birds. We can't get enough of them.

My favorite birds in poetry are Keats's nightingale, and Hardy's "blast-beruffled" thrush (this description always reminded me of my dog, Elaine, that we had while I was growing up--she was a mutt and her fur was black and grey and wiry, and totally disheveled and in her eyes).

There are others, certainly, but those come to mind first.

Banjo52 said...

H, I'm also a sucker for K's nightingale. Don't know the Hardy. Also, Hopkins' and Yeats' falcons. Richard Wilbur's vulture. Robert Penn Warren's hawk in "Mortal Limit." More recently, ED's bird coming down the walk. Somebody had the best crow poem, the way he struts, but I can't find it now--could've sworn it was Lucille Clifton, but apparently not. I think I get "beruffled" next to your description of Elaine. Maybe your opening should say, "Poets, dogs, and birds"??

Barbaro said...

Great illustration of how imagery/metaphor can be "too detailed" and yet work. Last couple lines are particularly gripping despite, or because of, being thoroughly unrealistic. But "straw hat" is a really striking detail: I want to say this can't make the man sound different, yet the idea does change my perception of him in a big way.

Jean Spitzer said...

Fabulous photos.

We call it the Mel Blanc bird.

Anonymous said...

the last photo is wonderful, and I'm surprised to see a bird's eye looks like a dog's eye.

Banjo52 said...

Jean and AH, thanks. I love that one-shot, if I say so myself. It's not as sharp as I'd like, but I find it kinda spooky.

Mel Blanc! Of course.

Barbaro, yeah, it's hard or impossible to know just what's going to swing these issues one way or the other. But I've heard mockingbirds, and a straw hat seems remarkably fitting--maybe even the hint of a minstrel performer--persistent, loud, flashy, but maybe lovely in a treetop way--say, with the fog lifting in Leavenworth, Indiana on the Ohio River.

And New Critic or not, I always want to know how an author arrives at such and such a decision.

Your sending me back to the poem also made me see the three rhymed lines just before final one. For now, I'm concluding that those rhymes suggest the wackiness of the mockingbird's songS. What might a poet o to replicate that? Well, here's one option: suddenly, arbitrarily stick three loud rhymes in the middle of nowhere.

I was not aware of Judith Harris. Were you?

Pasadena Adjacent said...

It's cute; like the Lennon sisters. Can you say that about a poem?

Banjo52 said...

PA, I see your point. It might be OK with Barbara Harris, but I wouldn't speak it to a poet. Or a serious painter--would you?

Pasadena Adjacent said...

No - unless I was purposely trying to cause trouble.

Yesterday I passed by Palmdale (in the desert) junior college and I remember a poet you presented who teaches there. Do you recall her name?

Banjo52 said...

Here's what I said, but it's wrong--Kay Ryan, as far as I know, has always been up in the Bay area.

"Maybe Kay Ryan?? I remember that she, as poet laureate of the U.S., taught "only" at a community college and at the 2010 Dodge Festival spoke warmly of the experience. Good memory, PA."

I'll try to google the Palmdale CC faculty. Such things interest me--a little this side of OCD, I think.

Banjo52 said...

No luck, PA, though Antelope Valley College's teacher, Charles Hood, won the Hollis Summer Poetry Prize (book publication) at my own Ohio University. Isn't that karma or synchronicity or some such thing?

I swear I vaguely remember our "conversation" about this, so I hope one of us remembers before too long.

Lovers' Lane