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About this Poem 

“Duval’s Birds” was published in Turns and Movies, and Other Tales in Verse (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1916).

Duval’s Birds

The parrot, screeching, flew out into the darkness,
Circled three times above the upturned faces
With a great whir of brilliant outspread wings,
And then returned to stagger on her finger.
She bowed and smiled, eliciting applause…
The property man hated her dirty birds.
But it had taken years—yes, years—to train them,
To shoulder flags, strike bells by tweaking strings,
Or climb sedately little flights of stairs.
When they were stubborn, she tapped them with a wand,
And her eyes glittered a little under the eyebrows.
The red one flapped and flapped on a swinging wire;
The little white ones winked round yellow eyes.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Conrad Aiken

Conrad Aiken

Conrad Potter Aiken was born in Savannah, Georgia, on August 5, 1889.

by this poet

poem

IV

Dead Cleopatra lies in a crystal casket,	
Wrapped and spiced by the cunningest of hands.	
Around her neck they have put a golden necklace,	
Her tatbebs, it is said, are worn with sands.	
 
Dead Cleopatra was once revered in Egypt—	        
Warm-eyed she was, this princess of the south.	
Now she
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Behold me, in my chiffon, gauze, and tinsel,
Flitting out of the shadow into the spotlight,
And into the shadow again, without a whisper!—
Firefly’s my name, I am evanescent.

Firefly’s your name. You are evanescent.
But I follow you  as remorselessly as darkness,
And shut you in and

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She rose among us where we lay.
She wept, we put our work away.
She chilled our laughter, stilled our play;
And spread a silence there.
And darkness shot across the sky,
And once, and twice, we heard her cry;
And saw her lift white hands on high
And toss her troubled hair.

What shape was this who came to us,