Are they trying to be songs,
those small urges nudging the heart
toward the throat, wanting to live on air?

Very like songs they are,
fragments of song, ideas for a song
swimming upstream to a belonging

with mute swans on the clear
mirror of a mountain lake
gliding toward the inevitable.

But what if they’re off-key?
Sung wrong? Β What indeed.
Try to remember what

someone looking for the lost chord
midway up a mountain in Tibet
said, and which I pass along:

a bird does not sing
because it has an answer;
it sings because it has a song.

Prelude to a Necessary Song

31 responses »

  1. I too am a “bird listener” and they are my alarm clock each morning and continue to sing all day! In fact, they have me singing as well. πŸ™‚ Thank you Cynthia I really enjoyed this poem.

      • I would love the cat to do that but my door opens on to a busy road… need I say more. Yet you are right, the birds and the following sunshine are perfect! You say it so well. πŸ™‚

  2. Wow again Cynthia! Your poems always do that to me. Not many people could write such a magnificent poem encapsulating such a precious quote as this which is a favourite of mine. It also brings to mind a quote by “Anon” or so it says on my little card which is on my desk at the side of me as I type. It goes like this – “Deep within you is written your own song; sing it with all your heart”. It would be nice to know who wrote it.

    And hearing you read made it all the better. Love it!! It is yet another favourite and the list is getting too long for that word to apply πŸ™‚ x πŸ™‚

    • You always lift my spirits, Christine. I’ve never been able to establish who the anon of my quotation is either. Years ago, when I was doing a lot of calligraphy, someone commissioned me to letter and illuminate it so they could frame it. They didn’t know the author, so I did the research but couldn’t find it either. Finally I asked myself–does it really matter? And in this case I decided the answer was no…the thought can belong to us all. (There’s no money to be made or ego to feed in this case, so no copyright) I also know and love the anon you have on your little card. Some of the very best stuff is by anon! Thanks as always, my friend.

  3. Yep, and Cynthia writes and reads poetry because she has a message, a poem. Resonant words Cynthia – keep on singing your song – writing these lovely poems. I wonder what birdsong sounds like midway up a mountain in Tibet- resonant, clear, piercingly fragile, tinged with the beauty of clear air and sparseness of solitary altitude?

  4. Lovely poem. I am not good in wisdom quotes, so I read: A bird doesn’t sing because it has a song, it sings because it has an answer πŸ™‚ and I am almost ashamed to say that works for me too πŸ™‚ lol x

  5. Those urges nudging the heart towards the throat…are they trying to be a song? I feel like this poem is encouraging us to sing because our life is a song, we don’t need it to be right, we don’t even need it to have a clear reason, sing! I really love this poem. I enjoy the way it flows from a question and then to the wisdom of Tibet, a wise poem.

    • I’m glad you like this poem, Anna. I meant it for all of us—mad makers of poems in spite of so many reasons not to do so. Thank you for reading, and for your usual thoughtful comment.

      • I love how you wrote it for all of us. With every poem I write it is, indeed, as though a thousand dead leaves had fallen all around it.

  6. This is really beautiful Cynthia!β™₯ I love the idea of thoughts urging the mind and wanting to be a song – a song of the heart! πŸ™‚ I have met a few people over the years, quite often workmen painting or repairing something singing little bits of songs, and when asked what it was they were singing, the answer was always the same “Oh I just made it up!” My Dad was a carpenter most of his life, and I can remember him doing the same, and of course I knew by what he was singing that he’d made it up. I’m sure it’s a way to keep the stress at bay.

    And the reason why birds sing will probably be a mystery forever, but maybe it’s for stress too? Maybe it soothes them, and they soothe each other by singing out, a bit like singing to a baby. Those birds must have a lot of urges of the heart! πŸ™‚

    • I remember my grandparents’ singing while they worked, she in the kitchen, he while “fixing” things about the house…many times, truly original songs, or creative riffs on songs. Then there are the songs of slaves on the plantation, and the sea chanteys of sailors rigging their ships.. I guess it took away stress, as you say, and maybe the boredom of repetitive tasks as well. Thank you for the lovely meander down memory lane! πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s