A Poem by Michael Leunig: Spring Diary of a Small, Brown Bird



The poem below is a favorite and the only one I’ve ever found that describes falling in love entirely from the point of view of another creature. The poem is from a marvelous collection titled, Short Notes from the Long History of Happiness, written and illustrated by Michael Leunig. Leunig is an Australian poet, philosopher, cartoonist, satirist, and cultural commentator who was formally declared in 1999, by the Australian National Trust, to be an Australian Living Treasure. His work appears regularly in the Melbourne Age, and also in the Sydney Morning Herald where he publishes a much coveted yearly calendar, which I have been lucky to receive for many years from some dear Australian friends.

Dady Chery, Editor
Haiti Chery

Guitarplayer-birdSpring diary of a small, brown bird

It is a perfect, sunny day
I am standing on the grass
singing when suddenly, out of
the blue, he arrives

He lands, beside me, throws
out his chest and launches into
such a beautiful song; so loud
and clear – What a voice!
WHAT a voice!

I turn away to conceal my
rush of delight and he
proceeds to prance boldly in a circle
around me with one extended
wing beating softly and
rhythmically at the earth

Such skill and balance! What
zest! What a thrilling dance!
I cannot help myself. I push
my breast against the ground
and raise my tail to the
splendour of the sun. He
appears to love me.

Closer and closer he circles.
I yearn. I spin. I swoon. Tenderly
he closes in on me sideways.
His eyes sparkle like pitch.
Our beaks meet. Our feathers
merge. I am in paradise

What happens next I can’t
remember. Bliss is the sweetest
form of unconsciousness.
Now, all I want to do is to love
him and to gather small twigs and
carry them to some high
and peaceful place where
I can build and listen to
my heart.

Sources: In Short Notes from the Long History of Happiness, Penguin Books Australia, Ltd, 1996, this poem is accompanied by a series of Leunig illustrations. Photo: Leunig speaks at a demonstration in Melbourne, on January 18, 2009, against Israel’s military action in Gaza (Credit: Takver); Cartoon: Guitar Player and a Bird Who Catches the Notes (by Leunig).

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