Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher

To force the pace and never to be still
Is not the way of those who study birds
Or women. The best poets wait for words.
The hunt is not an exercise of will
But patient love relaxing on a hill
To note the movement of a timid wing;
Until the one who knows that she is loved
No longer waits but risks surrendering –
In this the poet finds his moral proved
Who never spoke before his spirit moved.

The slow movement seems, somehow, to say much more.
To watch the rarer birds, you have to go
Along deserted lanes and where the rivers flow
In silence near the source, or by a shore
Remote and thorny like the heart’s dark floor.
And there the women slowly turn around,
Not only flesh and bone but myths of light
With darkness at the core, and sense is found
But poets lost in crooked, restless flight,
The deaf can hear, the blind recover sight.

– Nissim Ezekiel


While I don’t entirely buy the concept of a timid woman who must be coaxed to love – which is sort of implied here – the poem itself has a certain rhythm and lovely turns of phrase. The last line, for instance, sounds hauntingly familiar – I did some searching online and turned up Matthew 11:5.
We’ve run Ezekiel before, that poem talking about specifics that can be near-universally related to. This poem deals with the general – birdwatching, women, love – while anchored by vivid images that keep it from banality.

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