Friday, November 22, 2019

Poetry Friday: Ovenbird in Haiti

This morning I sat on my rocking chair on my front porch, clutching my binoculars, looking for birds. I didn't see much life today, but I did see one guy whom I'd never seen before, an addition to my list. I quickly identified him with the Merlin app on my phone: an ovenbird.

Here's a photo from to show you how he looked; he was a perfect specimen.
I immediately thought I remembered that Frost had written an ovenbird poem, so I looked it up and found it a little bit of a downer after watching this confident, cheerful bird. After his, I'm going to share my poem about the ovenbird. Although Frost spelled the name as two words, all my bird sources spell it as one, so I'm sticking with one for my poem.

The Oven Bird
by Robert Frost

There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.

Ovenbird in Haiti
by Ruth, from

Greetings, winter visitor to my yard,
jauntily strutting about in search of bugs to eat,
holding your orange stripy head up!
You don't seem to me to be talking about diminishment,
whatever Robert Frost had to say,
but then again, you're on a Caribbean vacation,
relaxing over your exotic snack,
so perhaps you're saving your philosophizing
for another time.
Make yourself at home, beady-eyed tourist,
puffing out your pale chest,
streaked with brown.
Welcome to a new November day!

We're still not having regular school here in Haiti, but doing our best with distance learning. I just can't wait to get back to teaching in my classroom and seeing my students' faces. But in the meantime, I'm learning new things every day.

I forgot that our host today, Rebecca at Sloth Reads, had asked us to write about food. I decided my poem counts, since my visitor from the north was definitely eating. My books and app told me that these birds are usually found on the ground, looking for food, and sure enough, that's exactly where mine was. Head on over to Rebecca's site to see what others have to share today.


Sharon said...

Thank you for both poems, Ruth! I had never seen, or heard of, the ovenbird. "Jaunty" seems just the right adjective for him.

I continue to think of you, your family, and all our sisters and brothers in Haiti. I am trying to hold you all in the Light.

Kay said...

I like your response to Frost's poem in yours. That ovenbird seems like quite a dapper fellow. I hope you are able to return to school and a more normal routine soon.

Rebecca Herzog said...

I love the idea of the vacationing tourist ovenbird. Thanks for sharing. And it totally counts as a food poem.

Linda B said...

Hoping that the return to school is soon, Ruth. I love that you are using your own unusual vacation to write and share your new learning, this time about that ovenbird. I've heard its name but do not know it. Frost seems to be using it as a goodbye, doesn't he? I love that you responded with your own words, and different places, new feelings.

Linda Mitchell said...

Oh, I love your response. Yes, that orange-stripey head is confident and happy.

Jone said...

What a cool bird. Love both poems.

Robyn Hood Black said...

LOVE the attitude of that little wonder in your picture! And your poem is a terrific response to our Mr. Frost's. Seems to me you are keeping your head & chin up, and eyes open, in the midst of stress and challenges - like this confident wee fellow is. I hope things settle soon & peacefully for you all. XO

michelle kogan said...

What a gorgeous poem you wrote, I think to this swaggering ovenbird himself as he "struts about" and "puffs out his pale chest,"
the matter-of-fact conversational voice reminds me of Mary Oliver–a favorite of mine. Beautiful bird thanks for sharing all with us Ruth. Here's hoping you are back at school soon.

Cheriee Weichel said...

That ovenbird is a plucky creature., but then, aren't all those animals who make these migrations full of pluck? Hoping and hoping things improve for you and yours.