The Birds

by Portia Burton

Startled by the noise I rush to the window
To see many birds perched all around
On the nearbytrees and the mute buildings,

Beautiful in their plumage in warm sunshine,
Flaunting wonderful colours of various hues:
Splashed with yellow or red or gold or orange,
Or black or grey or white or soft blues;
Their round eyes bulged with brightness and wonder,
All of them are twittering loudly, as if in anger,
As if wanting to slash through the gentle morning breeze,
They are crying stridently, with sheer vehemence,
Not bothering about shattering the peace,
Or to be in discord with each other,
Yet they are crying as if in unison,
And all of them are gazing in one direction.

I follow their gaze and see on the pavement,
Two urchins kicking about a dead bird,
Laughing aloud merrily to see its feathers scatter.

Then suddenly like a bolt from high above,
A large bird, perhaps a kite, swiftly swoops down,
Scaring away the urchins, it picks up the dead bird,
And soars away high in the sky to be seen no more.

The sitting birds, stunned for a moment in dead silence,
Take up angrily once again their wailing refrain.

©Portia Burton 2012

6 thoughts on “The Birds by Portia Burton

  1. When reading a poem; the emotion the poet wants to convey must sometimes be so subtle that the reader feels the emotion by a twist of imagination the poet takes the reader with.  I like the way you describe very human reactions to the birds; maybe too much so.  I do not feel the pain; all I feel is a bird died; and it was pretty.  This is more of a recounting of events; therefore; I see the story; sad but what could be said about the fact that Nature is neither good nor evil, but indifferent.  What could you say about the sadness you felt, realizing everything must die; even the bright and beautiful; even, someday, you.  I can only suggest a powerful ending;  where the bird is suddenly swooped up and everything is the same again is as if the bird may as well never existed; and perhaps if the feathers you describe with such imagination were to stain the sidewalk or some reminder of the sorrow that even the beautiful songbird must die would help me feel what you do; on my own and your poem would gain the depth of universal truth.

    • Portia Burton

      Thank you, Mr. Ron! well, I never intended to portray the ‘life cycle’. Just penned with pain in heart what I saw the other day.

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