Poem VAR #328

A bird came down the walk
he did not know I saw
he bit an angleworm in halves
and ate the fellow raw

And then he drank a dew
from a convenient grass
and then hopped sidewise to the wall
to let a beetle pass

He glanced with rapid eyes
that hurried all around
they looked like frightened beads I thought
he stirred his velvet head

like one in danger cautious
I offered him a crumb
and he unrolled his feathers
and rowed him softer home

than oars divide the Ocean
too silver for a seam
or butterflies off banks of noon
leap plashless as they swim


HWL's Comment

Date of writing: 1979

Subject/comment: I would say this is one of the poems created after 1859 for the clear purpose of amassing a stock of conventional, publishable poems. The hallmark of them is that the outer poem is the thing. Incidents and dramatic persons are chosen to create and preserve the action of the outer poem. If that disrupts the coherence and flawless continuity of the inner poem, she will make the sacrifice. Thus, with this poem it is difficult to make out for certain the inner meaning. The bird that is being watched could be penis in premature climax, but birds are usually symbols of female orgasmic arousal in attempt of hopping on the gland; so it might be this attempt by vaginal cup that is under observation. The symbollogic points to this interpretation. Yet, while the natural inclination is to look for heterosexual meanings first, I must try to see lesbian involvements when they are present. This is difficult as long as I am not informed about the variant playpatterns possible in the lesbian routine, especially difficult since the two players, E. & K., appear to have been inventive, creative artists in essaying new, stimulations and climaxproducing excitations. There do seem several symbols in the poem that admit the lesbian interpretation: the angleworm that is bitten in half and eaten raw can be the beloved female’s clitoris. The drinking of a dew from a convenient grass allows another such. The introduction of the beetle can suggest the presence of three in the sexual household, thus a change of attendant in the aggressive role, penis and heterosexual act intervening. With that assumption, the last three stanzas would describe an ensuing lesbian requitement, with Kate looking for the chance in frightened hesitation and Emily accommodating her coolly, soothingly. Thus a symbollogic of the lesbian variety emerges and the conclusion must be that this poem describes a lesbian intermezzo in a threepartite encounter.