“Song of the Unseen Bird”

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Jan. 3 2012 10:07 AM

“Song of the Unseen Bird”

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear H.L. Spelman read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

To walk so long with her in so much quiet
Then hear that unseen bird, whose name
I don’t know, wouldn’t know where to find,
Singing somewhere among the leaf sheen,
Was to realize why, when his beloved hero-killer
Resolves at last to die, Homer gives us
Not the laments the sea nymphs wail
But the nonsense song of their limpid names
He makes up: Limnoreia and Doto and Proto
And sometimes there are no words
And Kallianassa and Kymodoke and Maera
And sometimes no words could be sad enough.

Ashwing, Seedquit, Spotted Larmer:
Tee-way tee-wee tee-wooo
you sang to us.

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site. Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.

H.L. Spelman is a first year doctoral student in classical languages at Balliol College, Oxford and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His poetry has appeared in Blackbird, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Southern Poetry Review.

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