The Bird Feeder

A HyperPoem

Perching all longe hours, they seeken now as morning rise to breake their nightly fasting

Now birds come flightingly in fear of a above floating keen hawkeye

chickadee and kin arrive nervously

flicking to each side for seed

blue jays in pairs come next

others wait patient on a branch

watching another chance for seed

nuthatch far below

scrounges dropped seed

woodpecker pokes suet

Now red Cardinal is here

calling to order

his Collegium of Fowles

most formally



This poem originally came from a visit to friends who had an active set of bird feeders. We watched the continual promenade of birds of every feather all through a summer afternoon, and when we came home I put together a tattered feeder with glass windows that I had made years ago, got seed and suet, and within days we were in the bird business.

But there were other secret things which surfaced as I was writing this poem. First there was a dim memory of Chaucer and his Parliament of Fowles which I hadn't seen since college days, and this somehow shaped the archaic wording of the first two lines. But when I got to composing the end, I knew that the red bird was special. As a Cardinal in the Catholic Church he had a role and a dignity which marked him apart. Now no longer a Parliament, it was the "College of Cardinals" which came to mind, and the Latin "collegium" seemed much more suitable to his avian dignity. Footnotes should not be necessary for a poem, but I though to mention these points anyhow.

The HyperPoem opens the door to multi-theme asynchronous moving poetry, as a new way of reading words which are constantly rearranging themselves. The scrolling lines start all together, but since the lines have different lengths, they get out of sync quickly. Since the motion is slow, you can read parts of different lines at will, moving over the range of the poem in a new and surprising mode. Try to read snatches of lines as your eye moves up and down while the words move right to left. Stay with the poem a while, reading and remembering phrases and how they fit together, for an entirely different poetic experience.



William Harris
Prof. Em. Middlebury College
www.middlebury.edu/~harris