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The Circumstances of Birds

I rose, whistling like a wind
     Down, around, and under
The wings and talons
     Of sharp-clawed voices:

Feathered instincts living the circumstances
     Of birds during my then time.
I fell, rushing among the chances
     Of a million cries and uncounted sounds

And songs, if noise be song,
     Shrieked by ubiquitously pecking
Starlings and robbins (rehearsing the song
     Of great eagles--hymns sung

Into the interstices of my growing).
     It was always emergent spring as
I rose and fell, planing
     My life away, wanting it,

Willing it gone, so
     That this hour too might pass
Quickly and become tomorrow
     When the morning is unknown,

Become a summer moment, heard among
     The leaves of this forgotten garden
That I handle now, an unhung
     Photograph of a somewhere youth

That was ever achieved, that
     Now is beyond hovering desire;
For the ground I once breathed
     Suffers a growth of mechanical things 

For recapturing birds here,
     Here among the conditions
Of wasted, obscure orchards where
     Again I wish--other springs, different birds.

From The Circumstances of Birds and Other Poems
1964 Richard E. Lee


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