Week 7: Extinct Birds, by Judith Wright

Extinct Birds

Charles Harpur in his journals long ago
(written in hope and love, and never printed)
recorded the birds of his time’s forest –
birds long vanished with the fallen forest –
described in copperplate on unread pages.
The scarlet satin-bird, swung like a lamp in berries,
he watched in love, and then in hope described it.
There was bird blue, small, spangled like dew.
All now are vanished with the fallen forest.
And he, unloved, past hope, was buried.
who helped with proud stained hands to fell the forest,
and set those birds in love on unread pages;
yet thought himself immortal, being a poet.
And is he not immortal, where I found him,
in love and hope along his careful pages? –
the poet vanished, in the vanished forest,
among his brightly tincted extinct birds?

Judith Wright

We all write in hope and love, and while the immortality or otherwise of a poet may be thought a small thing to set against the deaths of whole species, the Australian poet Judith Wright manages here to balance and commemorate both most beautifully.

Posts will be weekly now I’ve got things off the ground.

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