Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: A Parrot

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

From May 3 to May 6, the May Sarton Centennial will be held in the town of York, where Sarton, one of Maine’s most important authors, lived in her “house by the sea”. The Centennial celebration will include music, commentaries, poetry readings, and even a clambake. Details are available at the Sarton 100 website: http://www.maysarton100.org. In preparation for the festivities, here’s a characteristically vivid and witty poem by the poet herself.

A Parrot By May Sarton

My parrot is emerald green,
His tail feathers, marine.
He bears an orange half-moon
Over his ivory beak.
He must be believed to be seen,
This bird from a Rousseau wood.
When the urge is on him to speak,
He becomes too true to be good.
He uses his beak like a hook
To lift himself up with or break
Open a sunflower seed,
And his eye, in a bold white ring,
Has a lapidary look.
What a most astonishing bird,
Whose voice when he chooses to sing
Must be believed to be heard.
That stuttered staccato scream
Must be believed not to seem
The shriek of a witch in the room.
But he murmurs some muffled words
(Like someone who talks through a dream)
When he sits in the window and sees
To to-and-fro wings of wild birds
In the leafless improbable trees.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 1993, 1988, 1984, 1980, 1974 by May Sarton. Reprinted from Collected Poems: 1930-1993, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or 207-228-8263.