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1068(1449) Chimney Swifts - Jarman

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  • Sam
    Sep 7, 2010
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      Chimney Swifts


      Throughout the winter, we once believed, they hid
      Nearby us, under eaves,
      In nestlike thatch and thickets wedged in tile,
      Sleeping as close to us as figures carved
      On vaults and open rafters.

      They were, in fact, skimming the Amazon.

      They are back now, with cowbirds, boat-tailed grackles,
      Kingbirds on powerlines,
      And quick goldfinches heading for the fields
      They drown their color in, in northern mountains.


      Swifts funnel down at twilight
      Into cold flues, chattering like children.


      They speak their language and we listen
      In our own, comparing them
      To children, travelers, speed, and life itself,
      Imparting a charmed knowledge unto us.


      To them, there are two worlds--
      The soot-thick shaft and the silky bowl of sky.


      To watch for them, to become expectant,
      To need their spring arrival,
      To know the kink from craning back the neck
      During the warm, late afternoons of April,
      Is part of the enchantment.

      Is to believe they feel it, too, and act.


      - Mark Jarman

      bio from: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/93

      Mark Jarman

      Mark Jarman was born in 1952, in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. He earned a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1974 and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1976. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry: Epistles (Sarabande, 2007); To the Green Man (Sarabande, 2004); Unholy Sonnets (2000); Questions for Ecclesiastes, which won the 1998 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Black Riviera (1990), which won the 1991 Poets' Prize; Far and Away (1985); The Rote Walker (1981); and North Sea (1978). In 1992 he published Iris, a book-length poem.

      His poetry and essays have been published widely in such periodicals and journals as American Poetry Review, The Hudson Review, The New Yorker, Poetry, The Southern Review, and The Yale Review. During the 1980s he and Robert McDowell founded, edited, and published the controversial magazine The Reaper, selections from which have been published in book form as The Reaper Essays (1996). Two collections of Jarman's own essays, The Secret of Poetry, in 2001, and Body and Soul, in 2002. He is also co-editor of Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New Formalism (with David Mason; 1996).

      His awards include a Joseph Henry Jackson Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is Centennial Professor of English at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife, the soprano Amy Jarman; they have two daughters, Claire and Zoƫ.