Hope Is The Thing With Feathers, Emily Dickinson
Three Little Birds, Bob Marley
Wild Geese, Mary Oliver
The Birds, William Blake
To See A World, William Blake
Sympathy, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Caged Bird, Maya Angelou
Alcatraz, Sharon Olds
John James Audubon, Stephen Vincent Benet
A Bird Came Down The Walk, Emily Dickinson
Bird Language, Christopher Pearce Cranch
The Swan, Rainer Maria Rilke
Who Killed Cock Robin? (traditional)
Invitation, Mary Oliver
Everyone Sings, Siegfried Sassoon
Excerpts form Rumi and Hafez poems

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Birds of A Feather, William Service
Woody’s Restaurant, Greg Delanty
The Bluebirds, Henry David Thoreau
Quartier Libre, Jacques Prévert
Rara Avis, Brenda Constantine
The Southern Custom of the Bird, Emily Dickinson
Bird Language, W. H. Auden
Sing A Song of Sixpence (traditional)


Hope Is The Thing With Feathers
by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune — without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.


Three Little Birds
by Bob Marley

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Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

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The Birds
by William Blake

He. Where thou dwellest, in what grove,
Tell me Fair One, tell me Love;
Where thou thy charming nest dost build,
O thou pride of every field!

She. Yonder stands a lonely tree,
There I live and mourn for thee;
Morning drinks my silent tear,
And evening winds my sorrow bear.

He. O thou summer’s harmony,
I have liv’d and mourn’d for thee;
Each day I mourn along the wood,
And night hath heard my sorrows loud.

She. Dost thou truly long for me?
And am I thus sweet to thee?
Sorrow now is at an end,
O my Lover and my Friend!

He. Come, on wings of joy we’ll fly
To where my bower hangs on high;
Come, and make thy calm retreat,
Among green leaves and blossoms sweet.


To See A World (excerpts)
by William Blake

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage . . . .
A dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State
A Hourse misus’d upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fiber from the Brain does tear
A Skylark wounded in the wing
A Cherubim does cease to sing
The Game Cock clipp’d and arm’d for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright . . . .
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belov’d by Men . . . .
It is right it should be so
Man was made for Joy and Woe
And when this we rightly know
Thro’ the World we safely go . . . .


by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals–
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting–
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,–
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings–
I know why the caged bird sings!


Caged Bird
by Maya Angelou

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by Sharon Olds

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John James Audubon
by Stephen Vincent Benet

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A Bird Came Down The Walk
by Emily Dickinson

A Bird came down the Walk—
He did not know I saw—
He bit an Angleworm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw,

And then he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass—
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass—

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all around—
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought—
He stirred his Velvet Head

Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home—

Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam—
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon
Leap, plashless as they swim.


Bird Language
by Christopher Pearce Cranch

One day in the bluest of summer weather,
Sketching under a whispering oak,
I heard five bobolinks laughing together
Over some ornithological joke.

What the fun was I couldn’t discover.
Language of birds is a riddle on earth.
What could they find in whiteweed and clover
To split their sides with such musical mirth?

Was it some prank of the prodigal summer,
Face in the cloud or voice in the breeze,
Querulous catbird, woodpecker drummer,
Cawing of crows high over the trees?

Was it some chipmunk’s chatter, or weasel
Under the stone-wall stealthy and sly?
Or was the joke about me at my easel,
Trying to catch the tints of the sky?

Still they flew tipsily, shaking all over,
Bubbling with jollity, brimful of glee,
While I sat listening deep in the clover,
Wondering what their jargon could be.

‘Twas but the voice of a morning the brightest
That ever dawned over yon shadowy hills;
‘Twas but the song of all joy that is lightest,-
Sunshine breaking in laughter and trills.

Vain to conjecture the words they are singing;
Only by tones can we follow the tune
In the full heart of the summer fields ringing,
Ringing the rhythmical gladness of June!


The Swan
by Rainer Maria Rilke
(translated by Robert Bly)

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done,
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is the letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan, when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.


Who Killed Cock Robin?
(The Death of Poor Cock Robin)
(author anonymous)

“Who killed Cock Robin?” “I,” said the Sparrow,
“With my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin.”
“Who saw him die?” “I,” said the Fly,
“With my little eye, I saw him die.”
“Who caught his blood?” “I,” said the Fish,
“With my little dish, I caught his blood.”
“Who’ll make the shroud?” “I,” said the Beetle,
“With my thread and needle, I’ll make the shroud.”
“Who’ll dig his grave?” “I,” said the Owl,
“With my pick and shovel, I’ll dig his grave.”
“Who’ll be the parson?” “I,” said the Rook,
“With my little book, I’ll be the parson.”
“Who’ll be the clerk?” “I,” said the Lark,
“If it’s not in the dark, I’ll be the clerk.”
“Who’ll carry the link?” “I,” said the Linnet,
“I’ll fetch it in a minute, I’ll carry the link.”
“Who’ll be chief mourner?” “I,” said the Dove,
“I mourn for my love, I’ll be chief mourner.”
“Who’ll carry the coffin?” “I,” said the Kite,
“If it’s not through the night, I’ll carry the coffin.”
“Who’ll bear the pall?” “We,” said the Wren,
“Both the cock and the hen, we’ll bear the pall.”
“Who’ll sing a psalm?” “I,” said the Thrush,
“As she sat on a bush, I’ll sing a psalm.”
“Who’ll toll the bell?” “I,” said the bull,
“Because I can pull, I’ll toll the bell.”
All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll for poor Cock Robin.


by Mary Oliver

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Everyone Sings
by Siegfried Sassoon

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Excerpts from Rumi and Hafez (translation)

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