Friday, January 14, 2011

Poetry Friday -- Bird Blobs

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

If hope is, indeed, the thing with feathers, what do winter bird blobs represent? Are they hope, amassed, ready to serve where they are most needed?  Or are they all the bits and pieces of lost hope, destined to swirl in synchronous flight, breaking apart, coming together, landing on lines, swarming on crabapple trees, pooping on cars, and frightening the ornithophobic? 

Or are they just a blob of starlings on the soccer field at my school?

EDITED TO ADD (thanks, Blythe): Ultimate bird blob video -- you MUST watch this!

Laura Salas has the roundup today at Writing the World for Kids.


  1. Winter bird blobs! This made my morning. I love that Emily Dickinson poem, and yes, I now believe those blobs represent hope. Thank you for a new way to see them...I see so many as I drive and am fascinated by how they stick together. A.

  2. Yes, hope! Swirling birds tangle up the telephone lines with hope (while we try to keep our eyes on the road). Thanks for Emily and the imagery.

  3. I don't live far from Emily Dickinson's old home, and it's a fact during the long winters that it's the birds that keep us going. And writing. They're good company, though the dogs barking at marauding squirrels at the feeder is not so peaceful. There's a price for everything, yes?

    I'm reading a Dickinson bio at the moment, so love the she is almost as omnipresent as the birds!

    Happy new year to you, Mary Lee!

  4. I love this Dickinson poem and also winter bird blobs! I like to think of them as individual words that might not be amazing individually but they come together in an amazing swirl of beauty and newness!

  5. You reminded me of this: Starlings at Otmoor

    the bird blobs starting about 2:30 on the film are super

  6. I have a blue heron that perches on the rocks in the creek behind my house. Lots of hope there!

  7. Love Ms. Emily, love birds: thanks! Our blogs complement each other as well: I'm a ninth grade English teacher, so I'm reading YA and adult books to find the perfect mix for my young sophisticates!

  8. And this: Winter birds are as Emily posited: hope on feathers. As species after species gathers to share a human-found bounty, the exhuberance of abundant spirit lifts us all above the slowly crustifying snow puddles.
    This does not negate the possibility that starlings aplenty might be clepped "a blob". If there's "a murder of crows", why not?

  9. Hi, Mary Lee. Love this poem -- the folk musician Ted Jacobs has a beautiful version on his CD for kids, "The Days Gone By: Songs of the AMerican Poets."

  10. Oh my good God...that video is beautiful and astonishing. Must make a note to go to Otmoor. So lovely. Thanks for sharing.

    Those Dickinson words sure are immortal, eh? Makes me smile. I vote for hope...always hope.

  11. Late this weekend, Mary Lee--

    I thought I knew that poem. Funny, huh? The videos of the bird swarms make me think of those digital displays that match the music--they're mystical and mathematical at the same time. I like to think that hope is both mystical and chaotically predictable too.

    Can you send me the code for the PF schedule? Thanks!


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