My townspeople, beyond in the great world,
are many with whom it were far more
profitable for me to live than here with you.
These whirr about me calling, calling!
and for my own part I answer them, loud as I can,
but they, being free, pass!
I remain! Therefore, listen!
For you will not soon have another singer.
First I say this: you have seen
the strange birds, have you not, that sometimes
rest upon our river in winter?
Let them cause you to think well then of the storms
that drive many to shelter. These things
do not happen without reason.
And the next thing I say is this:
I saw an eagle once circling against the clouds
over one of our principal churches—
Easter, it was—a beautiful day!
three gulls came from above the river
and crossed slowly seaward!
Oh, I know you have your own hymns, I have heard them—
and because I knew they invoked some great protector
I could not be angry with you, no matter
how much they outraged true music—
You see, it is not necessary for us to leap at each other,
and, as I told you, in the end
the gulls moved seaward very quietly.

Poems by This Author

A Love Song by William Carlos Williams
What have I to say to you
Approach of Winter by William Carlos Williams
The half-stripped trees
Asphodel, That Greeny Flower [excerpt] by William Carlos Williams
Of asphodel, that greeny flower,
Complaint by William Carlos Williams
They call me and I go
Complete Destruction by William Carlos Williams
It was an icy day
Danse Russe by William Carlos Williams
If when my wife is sleeping
Details for Paterson by William Carlos Williams
I just saw two boys
For the Poem Paterson [1. Detail] by William Carlos Williams
Her milk don't seem to
For the Poem Paterson [3. St. Valentine] by William Carlos Williams
A woman's breasts
It Is a Small Plant by William Carlos Williams
It is a small plant
Landscape With The Fall of Icarus by William Carlos Williams
According to Brueghel
Marriage by William Carlos Williams
So different, this man
Peace on Earth by William Carlos Williams
The Archer is wake
Poem [Daniel Boone] by William Carlos Williams
Daniel Boone, the father of Kentucky
Poem [on getting a card] by William Carlos Williams
on getting a card
Queen-Anne's-Lace by William Carlos Williams
Her body is not so white as
Smell by William Carlos Williams
Oh strong-ridged and deeply hollowed
Spring and All [By the road to the contagious hospital] by William Carlos Williams
By the road to the contagious hospital
Spring and All, XIV by William Carlos Williams
Of death
Spring Storm by William Carlos Williams
The sky has given over
Summer Song by William Carlos Williams
Wanderer moon
The Descent by William Carlos Williams
The descent beckons
The Great Figure by William Carlos Williams
Among the rain
The Hurricane by William Carlos Williams
The tree lay down
The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams
so much depends
The Uses of Poetry by William Carlos Williams
I've fond anticipation of a day
The Widow's Lament in Springtime by William Carlos Williams
Sorrow is my own yard
This Is Just To Say by William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
To a Poor Old Woman by William Carlos Williams
munching a plum on
To Elsie by William Carlos Williams
The pure products of America
Tract by William Carlos Williams
I will teach you my townspeople
Winter Trees by William Carlos Williams
All the complicated details

Further Reading

Poems about Birds
Tender Buttons [Chicken]
by Gertrude Stein
Littlefoot, 19, [This is the bird hour]
by Charles Wright
Rocket Fantastic [excerpt]
by Gabrielle Calvocoressi
The Scarlet Ibis, Section VII
by Susan Hahn
A Bird came down the Walk (328)
by Emily Dickinson
A Bird in Hand
by Amber Flora Thomas
A Peacock in Spring
by Joyelle McSweeney
Albatross in Co. Antrim
by Robin Robertson
by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Birding at the Dairy
by Sidney Wade
Birds Again
by Jim Harrison
Birds Appearing In A Dream
by Michael Collier
Black bird, red wing
by Nickole Brown
Darwin's Finches
by Deborah Digges
Dispatches from Devereux Slough
by Mark Jarman
Dove, Interrupted
by Lucie Brock-Broido
Evening Hawk
by Robert Penn Warren
Ground Birds in Open Country
by Stanley Plumly
Hardware Sparrows
by R. T. Smith
Home to Roost
by Kay Ryan
Hope is the thing with feathers (254)
by Emily Dickinson
by Elaine Terranova
I am Like a Desert Owl, an Owl Among the Ruins
by Noelle Kocot
If the Owl Calls Again
by John Haines
In Flight
by Jennifer K. Sweeney
In the Memphis Airport
by Timothy Steele
by Edith Sitwell
Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens
by Jack Prelutsky
Leda and the Swan
by W. B. Yeats
Leda, After the Swan
by Carl Phillips
Let Birds
by Linda Gregg
My Mother Would Be a Falconress
by Robert Duncan
Ode to a Nightingale
by John Keats
Paper Swallow
by Stanley Moss
Poet as Immortal Bird
by Ron Padgett
Red-Legged Kittiwake
by Emily Wilson
Revision in My Wife's Powder Room
by Lauren Berry
Small Study
by Emily Wilson
Song of the Owl
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy
The Eagle
by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The Heron
by Linda Hogan
The Life So Short...
by Eamon Grennan
The Nightingale
by Sir Philip Sidney
The Parakeets
by Alberto Blanco
The Raven
by Edgar Allan Poe
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Sparrow
by Gerald Stern
The Starlings
by Jesper Svenbro
The Windhover
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Yellow Bittern (An Bunnan Bui)
by Cathal Bui Mac Giolla Gunna
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
by Wallace Stevens
Three Moves
by John Logan
by Melissa Ginsburg
To a Skylark
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
To a Waterfowl
by William Cullen Bryant
White Stork
by Michael Waters
Wild Swans
by Edna St. Vincent Millay