Saturday, 2 November 2013

Day 470: Starlings in November

November has arrived with its characteristic cold and dark. But at least there's one good thing about this most maligned of months  - starling murmuration time. 

Look to the skies at dusk for this stunning spectacle of nature - there's nothing quite like it when these birds swirl in the sky en masse, like a synchronised art, or  'one stippled star that opens.'  

As always, Mary Oliver harnesses the magic and meaning of such a sight into a beautiful reflection that ends with a powerful personal (and universal) epiphany: 'I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing...'.

Starlings in Winter - Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.


  1. One of my absolute favorite poems. I cry every time I read it or see a murmuration of starlings.
    I found this site today and it is wonderful. Thank you.

  2. And thank you for visiting and commenting :)


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