I came across a quotation from Nissim Ezekiel's poem, "Poet, Lover,
Birdwatcher" in a book, and the title was so interesting that I just
had to look it up. I found it
the minstrels archive, and it's such an intriguing poem that I'm
quoting all twenty lines here.
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
I have read
poems by Nissim Ezekiel (one was a part of my high school English
curriculum), but I can't remember another one that made me sit up and
pay attention. I love the idea of tying poetry, love, and bird-watching
together through the patience and caring that each requires; and I love
the unhurried, graceful way the poem segues between each activity and
the feelings it evokes. I think the ending is a bit forced (did anyone
heart's dark floor or were they too busy eyeing up
the slowly turning women?), and detracts from the light tone established
by the first stanza. I notice, too, that poetry, love, and bird-watching
are presented as implicitly male pursuits.
Myths of light with darkness at the core? Not so much. But
patient love relaxing on a hill is a different feeling, one that I can
recognise and will remember.