16 April 2013
'The Orioles' by John Ashbery

What time the orioles came flying
Back to the homes, over the silvery dikes and seas,
The sad spring melted at a leap,
The shining clouds came over the hills to meet them.

The old house guards its memories, the birds
Stream over colored snow in summer
Or back into the magic rising sun in winter.
They cluster at the feeding station, and rags of song

Greet the neighbors. "Was that your voice?"
And in spring the mad caroling continues long after daylight
As each builds his hanging nest
Of pliant twigs and the softest moss and grasses.

But one morning you get up and the vermillion-colored
Messenger is there, bigger than life at the window.
"I take my leave of you; now I fly away
To the sunny reeds and marshes of my winter home."

And that night you gaze moodily
At the moonlit apple-blossoms, for of course
Horror and repulsion do exist! They do! And you wonder,
How long will the perfumed dung, the sunlit clouds cover my heart?

And the some morning when the snow is flying
Or it lines the black-fir trees, the light cries,
The excited songs start up in the yard!
The feeding station is glad to receive its guests,

But how long can the stopover last?
The cold begins when the last song retires,
And even when they fly against the trees in bright formation
You know the peace they brought was long overdue.