#WordPower – #ProfoundlyPoetic – #PurpleGrackles by Amy Lowell

Purple (Common) Grackle

Alas! All but one or two of my gorgeous little painted buntings have moved on, hoping for warmer weather along their journey northward to their summer/nesting grounds. (I’m afraid they may be a bit disappointed about that, at least for another week or two, but I wish them safe journeys.)

At my feeder, the grackles have taken over, both common and boat-tailed varieties. Jostling, shoving, crowding each other off the tray in their fever to stock up for their own northward journey. Today, because I love them dearly, and because I had a request from Patty,  I’m going to share one of my favorite poems again. It captures the exuberance and beauty of these birds perfectly, along with so much more. And it has inspired me to start a new series of posts. Will tell you more on that later.  For now, even though spring will soon be here, I hope you’ll enjoy Amy Lowell’s  tribute to autumn’s arrival, Purple Grackles. (It’s long, but it’s well worth savoring every word.)

PURPLE GRACKLES by Amy Lowell (1874 – 1925)

The grackles have come.
The smoothness of the morning is puckered with their incessant chatter.
A sociable lot, these purple grackles.
Thousands of them strung across a long run of wind,
Thousands of them beating the air-ways with quick wing-jerks,
Spinning down the currents of the South.
Every year they come,
My garden is a place of solace and recreation evidently,
For they always pass a day with me.
With high good nature they tell me what I do not want to hear.
The grackles have come.

I am persuaded that grackles are birds;
But when they are settled in the trees
I am inclined to believe them fruits
And the trees turned hybrid blackberry vines.
Blackness shining and bulging under leaves,
Does not that mean blackberries, I ask you?
Nonsense!  The grackles have come.

Nonchalant highwaymen, pickpockets, second-story burglars,
Stealing away my little hope of Summer.
There is no stealthy robbing in this.
Who ever heard such a gabble of thieves’ talk!
It seems they delight in unmasking my poor pretense.
Yes, now I see that the hydrangea blooms are rusty;
That the hearts of the golden glow are ripening to lustreless seeds;
That the garden is dahlia-coloured,
Flaming with its last over-hot hues;
That the sun is pale as a lemon too small to fill the picking-ring.
I did not see this yesterday,
But today, the grackles have come.

They drop out of the trees
And strut in companies over the lawn,
Tired of flying, no doubt;
A grand parade to limber legs and give wings a rest.
I should build a great fish-pond for them,
Since it is evident that a bird-bath, meant to accommodate two goldfinches at most,
Is slight hospitality for these hordes.
Scarcely one can can get in,
They all peck and scrabble so,
Crowding, pushing, chasing one another up the bank with spread wings.
“Are we ducks, you, owner of such inadequate comforts,
That you offer us lily-tanks where one must swim or drown,
Not stand and splash like a gentleman?”
I feel the reproach keenly, seeing them perch on the edges of the tanks, trying the depth with a chary foot,
And hardly able to get their wings under water in the bird-bath.
But there are resources I had not considered,
If I am bravely ruled out of count.
What is that thudding against the eaves just beyond my window?
What is that spray of water blowing past my face?
Two–three–grackles bathing in the gutter,
The gutter providentially choked with leaves.
I pray they think I put the leaves there on purpose;
I would be supposed thoughtful and welcoming
To all guests, even thieves.
But considering that they are going South and I am not,
I wish they would bathe more quietly,
It is unmannerly to flaunt one’s good fortune.

They rate me of no consequence,
But they might reflect that it is my gutter.
I know their opinion of me,
Because one is drying himself on the windowsill
Not two feet from my hand.
His purple neck is sleek with water,
And the fellow preens his feathers for all the world as if I were a fountain statue.
If it were not for the window,
I am convinced he would light on my head.
Tyrian-feathered freebooter,
Appropriating my delightful gutter with so extravagant an ease,
You are as cool a pirate as ever scuttled a ship,
And are you not scuttling my Summer with every peck of your sharp bill?

But there is a cloud over the beech-tree,
A quenching cloud for lemon-livered suns.
The grackles are all swinging in the treetops,
And the wind is coming up, mind you.
That boom and reach is no Summer gale,
I know that wind,
It blows the Equinox over seeds and scatters them.
It rips petals from petals, and tears off half-turned leaves.
There is rain on the back of that wind.
Now I would keep the grackles,
I would plead with them not to leave me.
I grant their coming, but I would not have them go.
It is a milestone, this passing of grackles.
A day of them, and it is a year gone by.
There is magic in this and terror,
But I only stare stupidly out of the window.
The grackles have come.

Come!  Yes, they surely came.
But they have gone.
A moment ago the oak was full of them,
They are not there now.
Not a speck of a black wing,
Not an eye-peep of a purple head.
The grackles have gone,
And I watch an Autumn storm
Stripping the garden,
Shouting black rain challenges
To an old, limp Summer
Laid down to die in the flower beds.

27 thoughts on “#WordPower – #ProfoundlyPoetic – #PurpleGrackles by Amy Lowell

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the grackles and Lowell’s poem, Olga. It’s been a favorite of mine since I was about 12 or 13 years of age. I love several of her works, but then again, I love many of the older, more classical poems. And I probably should have been more specific when I used the term “series.” I’m talking about a new series of blog posts, not a new book series. Already got a Riverbend novel languishing at the halfway point, and a new spinoff novella series getting started, so I’m not thinking of anything else in the way of books. But I do like to come up with new ideas for blog posts, and I’m working on it. 😀

      Thanks so much for stopping by today! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. There’s nothing common about your purple grackle! I had meant to look them up after the painted bunting post but forgot and wondered if they were like our starlings. Nope! That small picture at the bottom really explains how the boat-tailed one got its name. As for Amy Lowell, I first came across her a few months ago in a crossword clue. The poem I found was nice but this one is so vivid and the observation is superb. Hoping you’re having a good day! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m having a great day, compared to the last four weeks, Trish. Thanks for checking. I just MIGHT be easing toward the end of this, knock wood. And the grackles, common or not, are uncommonly beautiful, too, in my opinion. Plus they are fun. I know they can be a bother in some areas, but I’m always excited when I see them pass through, especially during fall migration, which always seems larger than in the spring. I look to the grackles to alert me fall is here, and the Chuck-will’s widow calling at night to alert me that spring has arrived. Swallow-tailed kites will be along in a couple of months to herald summer. And so it goes!

      And we get your starlings now, too, as exotic birds that caused a lot of trouble by ending up where they don’t belong. (Thanks to human intervention, of course). Grackles, even the smaller common grackles, are a good bit larger than the starlings. And there’s your nature lesson for today in a nutshell. (Can you tell I really miss being able to give my wildlife talks? I have HIGH hopes for March, though.)

      Thanks for stopping by!! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I learn so much through your posts, Marcia. I’m just getting to know the birds in this high desert area of AZ. Ravens abound and I love them. When I meet them on a path, I always say hello, and sometimes they respond. Anyway, I used to associate ravens with Poe, now I think of them as friends. 💗

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think of ravens as friends BECAUSE of Poe! (Another great favorite of mine). We don’t really have them down here, though we have two species of crows here: the American crow and the smaller fish crow. (Easy to distinguish by their very different calls.) I’ve only seen ravens once or twice, while in the North Carolina mountains, but they were just wonderful. I’d say hello to them, too.

      So glad you feel you’ve learned some things from my posts. As you can tell, I love to share goodies about animals and birds, so it’s fun to know someone is enjoying them. Thanks for stopping by today! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jan! I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. It’s been a fave of mine for about 65 years now, and once in a while I just have to share it again. Still pondering how I want to do the new series, so give me a bit of time, but I’m starting to feel like I candle handle a bit more this last couple of days, so here’s hoping.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! 😀 ❤


    • Nice imagery, Art, and you can’t go wrong with ospreys. Such wonderfully aerodynamic birds! Living in a state surrounded by water, we have lots of them down here, and they are always a treat to see.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

        • Yep. I live in Seminole Country near Lake Monroe. We’re almost neighbors! 😀 When I’m not in recovery from breakthrough COVID, I give wildlife/bird talks at Enterprise Museum (in Enterprise, of course) and DeBary Hall (in DeBary). They’re open to the public and always free, so come join us sometime, if you’re interested.

          Liked by 1 person

            • I can identify. I’m in a triple high risk group, myself, so I avoid going out, except for my talks, and I keep a good distance from folks, even then. I can’t wait to be able to hug folks again! Nice meeting you, Art. (BTW, I graduated high school from H. B. Plant High in Tampa, many years ago–1962!–so, small world, eh?)


              • jesus. yes. a small world. i got my GED in 1984 – had to skip school for health reasons (still today i have, the reason i take meds) and i did not want to repeat the 12th grade at Leto High. so i graduated in 84 (when i was suppose to) and got an AS degree in computer engineering at tampa tech.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Well, one of these days you’ll have to come to one of my talks, and we’ll take some time to trade stories. (My brother graduated from Leto in 1965!) Bring the whole family, if they love Florida wildlife and habitats. 😊

                  Liked by 1 person

    • When they are flying overhead, you probably just think “blackbirds,” but when you see them in the sun, they are really gorgeous, Teri. And so much fun. Lowell’s poem truly describes their mannerisms to a “T!” Birds really brighten the world to me, so I’m always looking for what’s out there. And if you think grackles are pretty, check Monday’s post on painted buntings! 😀 ❤ They've been at my feeder for more than 2 weeks, waiting for the cold weather up north to ease up so they can continue on their migration to their summer nesting grounds. There was still one out there this morning, but I think he's the last straggler.

      Thanks for stopping by today! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a lovely work, isn’t it, Yvette? And so evocative of fall and life changes, and of course, the beauty and fun of having the grackles drop in for a visit. 😀 Glad you enjoyed it! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

Looking forward to hearing what YOU think! NOTE: If in doubt about leaving comments on this blog, please read the privacy statement in the menu at the top of the page.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s