Short Ode to the Cuckoo - by W.H. Auden

Published by: Mary B on 10th Aug 2017 | View all blogs by Mary B

Short Ode to the Cuckoo

by W.H. Auden

 Short Ode to the Cuckoo

Short Ode to the Cuckoo

No one now imagines you answer idle questions
— How long shall I live?  How long remain single?
Will butter be cheaper? — nor does your shout make
husbands uneasy.

Compared with arias by the great performers
such as the merle, your two-note act is kid-stuff:
our most hardened crooks are sincerely shocked by
your nesting habits.

Science, Aesthetics, Ethics, may huff and puff but they
cannot extinguish your magic:  you marvel
the commuter as you wondered the savage.
Hence, in my diary,

where I normally enter nothing but social
engagements and, lately, the death of friends, I
scribble year after year when I first hear you,
of a holy moment.



  • LJ E
    by LJ E 11 months ago
    Ode to a Cuckoo

    Was that a Cuckoo I heard?
    A most disagreeable bird
    It lays eggs in another bird's nest
    For it feels it is just for the best
    Then flies away feeling quite smug
    And thinking " That Robin's a mug'
    "My chick will not take any rest
    'Til it tosses the eggs from the nest"

    All alone with voracious demand
    The poor Robin fulfils its command
    From morning 'til night the Robin does fly
    Searching for food so its 'chick' does not die
    The cuckoo grows fat and will soon leave the nest
    The Robin grows thin but has given its best
    And was that a Cuckoo I heard?
    A most disagreeable bird.

    LJE (c)
  • Mary B
    by Mary B 11 months ago
    Brilliant LJ - our Bard of Birmingham strikes again! :)
    You are right, the Cuckoo is a most disagreeable bird - but nature has strange ways, and its deception seems to remain a successful strategy.....
  • LJ E
    by LJ E 11 months ago
    Thanks Mary.....I wrote it in about 10 minutes! Sometimes it's like that, other times it can take hours.
    I often read it back (after posting) and think I could have made it better.....

    The cuckoo is not my favourite of birds. However, we must not put our own 'human' perceptions, of what is right and wrong, in nature. After all it is us humans that do the most damage. If we left nature to do what it does best, without interference, the world would be a much better place.
  • Mary B
    by Mary B 11 months ago
    Well, I'm just thankful you don't have those magic 'codes' LJ ..... lol!! :)
  • Sandy H
    by Sandy H 11 months ago
    Brilliant LJ , a lovely Ode to a Cuckoo, thank you
  • josee  a
    by josee a 11 months ago
    That is a brilliant poem. Should be published I think.
  • Mary B
    by Mary B 11 months ago
    Well, I suppose it has sort of been published - on DropBy......?
    The blogs are visible to people who are not signed in so can reach many more than just our regular members ..... :)
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