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About this Poem 

“Swallows” was published in Speyer’s book A Canopic Jar (E. P. Dutton & Company, 1921).


They dip their wings in the sunset,
They dash against the air
As if to break themselves upon its stillness:
In every movement, too swift to count,
Is a revelry of indecision,
A furtive delight in trees they do not desire
And in grasses that shall not know their weight.

They hover and lean toward the meadow
With little edged cries;
And then,
As if frightened at the earth’s nearness,
They seek the high austerity of evening sky
And swirl into its depth.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Leonora Speyer

Leonora Speyer

Leonora Speyer was born in Washington, D.C., in 1872. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1927 for her poetry collection Fiddler’s Farewell (Knopf, 1926). Speyer died in 1956.

by this poet

It would be easy to forgive,
If I could but remember;
If I could hear, lost love of mine,
The music of your cruelties,
Shaking to sound the silent skies,
Could voice with them their song divine,
Red with pain’s leaping ember:
It would be easy
I will not walk in the wood to-night,
I will not stand by the water’s edge
And see day lie on the dusk’s bright ledge
Until it turn, a star at its breast,
To rest.

I will not see the wide-flung hills
Closing darkly about my grief,
I wore a crown of their lightest leaf,
But now they press like a cold, blue ring,


Out of the storm that muffles shining night
Flash roses ghastly-sweet,
And lilies far too pale.
There is a pang of livid light,
A terror of familiarity,
I see a dripping swirl of leaves and petals
That I once tended happily,
Borders of flattened, frightened