Statue and Birds

Here, in the withered arbor, like the arrested wind,
Straight sides, carven knees,
Stands the statue, with hands flung out in alarm
Or remonstrances.

Over the lintel sway the woven bracts of the vine
In a pattern of angles.
The quill of the fountain falters, woods rake on the sky
Their brusque tangles.

The birds walk by slowly, circling the marble girl,
The golden quails,
The pheasants, closed up in their arrowy wings,
Dragging their sharp tails.

The inquietudes of the sap and of the blood are spent.
What is forsaken will rest.
But her heel is lifted, – she would flee, – the whistle of the birds
Fails on her breast.

from The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 (Ecco Press, 1977), copyright © 1968 by Louise Bogan, copyright renewed 1996 by Ruth Limmer, used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. Recording made on 17 November 1944 at the Recording Laboratory, Library of Congress, Washington DC, used with permission of the Library of Congress.

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