The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas

The Birds (Peter Owen Modern Classic) - Tarjei Vesaas

'We're coming, we're coming,' somebody said. ' You're ready, aren't you?'


Vesaas's poetic words, as they flit and float within the currents of Mattis's uncomplicated mind, as he struggles to articulate them meaningfully, have proven that beauty of nature, nature's beings and the nature of one's being might simply be understood, less from the spoken word, if one would stop to quietly listen. Mattis, who exists naturally, with the emptiness many take several life cycles to achieve, is Vesaas's example of this.


I HAVE NOTHING to add to the glowing reviews of this novel ( present on that other review site) , that would not be insufficient or superfluous, but for this treasure found in the poem by the same name, inspired by this novel and written by Tarjei's wife, Halldis Moren Vesaas.


The Birds


All day long I listened
to the rushing wings over my head.
High in the sun-blue air
a flock of birds flew their unburdened flight.
Today I thought once
that one of them was sinking down
as if wanting to be my guest.

I thought I heard a pair of wings
standing out among the others
rowing hastily toward me.
Thus among all of them
was a bird that was mine and I opened
every door, every window in my home.

Perhaps it was only a small, grey bird,
but with bright eyes and warm, soft feathers
and driven by impatience
toward the heart that waited just for him,
as a dry river bed
waits to be flooded.


Closer, closer the sound of wings,
like a beating heart
- stopping suddenly; was the bird
standing still on my roof?

Then the fresh sounds, as if the heart
started to beat again,
but faster now and fainter
and further and further away

until it swings around anew:
the rush of thousand beating wings.
I know now that the bird will
not roost with me today.

Dusk falls. High in the sun-red air
the passage of birds as before.
Down here the shadows have taken my house.
It still is waiting with open windows
and open door.

My feet are heavy and tied to the earth.
Soon I can no longer glimpse the birds
that freely roam the air.

But now when they swing around again
they burst out in song
so that the evening sun glows warmer.

Who are you who dared to call
one of these birds your own...


Cited in The North American Review, Vol. 257, No.1 (Spring, 1972), p.59