For the Birds Radio Program: Two Emily Dickinson Poems about Bobolinks

Original Air Date: Nov. 21, 2000 Rerun Dates: June 24, 2003; Nov. 5, 2002

Laura reads two of Emily Dickinson’s poems about Bobolinks.

Duration: 2′18″


Autumn is gradually changing into winter. As much as we look forward to cross-country skiing and watching sled dogs in action, there is something sad and final about the end of autumn. I miss warblers and Winter Wrens.

Emily Dickinson missed Bobolinks, as she wrote in two different poems, which we’ll read today, on For the Birds Poetry Day. First, her poem number 1591:

The Bobolink is gone-
The Rowdy of the Meadow-
And no one swaggers now but me­
The Presbyterian Birds
Can now resume the Meeting
He boldly interrupted that overflowing Day
When supplicating mercy
In a portentous way
He swung upon the Decalogue
And shouted let us pray—

Now Emily Dickenson’s poem number 1279:

The Way to know the Bobolink
From every other Bird
Precisely as the Joy of him­—
Obliged to be inferred.

Of impudent Habiliment
Attired to defy,
Impertinence subordinate
At times to Majesty.

Of Sentiments seditious
Amenable to Law—
As Heresies of Transport
Or Puck’s Apostacy.

Extrinsic to Attention
Too intimate with Joy­
He compliments existence
Until allured away

By Seasons or his Children—
Adult and urgent grown—
Or unforeseen aggrandizement
Or, happily, Renown—

By Contrast certifying
The Bird of Birds is gone­—
How nullified the Meadow­—
Her Sorcerer withdrawn!