Billy Collins

(22 March 1941 - / New York City)

Christmas Sparrow - Poem by Billy Collins

The first thing I heard this morning
was a soft, insistent rustle,
the rapid flapping of wings
against glass as it turned out,

a small bird rioting
in the frame of a high window,
trying to hurl itself through
the enigma of transparency into the spacious light.

A noise in the throat of the cat
hunkered on the rug
told me how the bird had gotten inside,
carried in the cold night
through the flap in a basement door,
and later released from the soft clench of teeth.

Up on a chair, I trapped its pulsations
in a small towel and carried it to the door,
so weightless it seemed
to have vanished into the nest of cloth.

But outside, it burst
from my uncupped hands into its element,
dipping over the dormant garden
in a spasm of wingbeats
and disappearing over a tall row of hemlocks.

Still, for the rest of the day,
I could feel its wild thrumming
against my palms whenever I thought
about the hours the bird must have spent
pent in the shadows of that room,
hidden in the spiky branches
of our decorated tree, breathing there
among metallic angels, ceramic apples, stars of yarn,

its eyes open, like mine as I lie here tonight
picturing this rare, lucky sparrow
tucked into a holly bush now,
a light snow tumbling through the windless dark.

Topic(s) of this poem: christmas


Comments about Christmas Sparrow by Billy Collins

  • Tom Allport (12/20/2016 1:33:00 PM)

    tom allport
    one lucky sparrow plus one good deed equals being happy? (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • (1/25/2016 8:11:00 AM)


    Great poem by Billy Collins and not some surreal dada to boot. (Report) Reply

  • (1/18/2016 9:03:00 AM)


    I'm so glad that it is free! (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (12/19/2015 10:42:00 PM)


    This is Poetry with a capital P- - he handed us this beautiful thought-provoking incident and painted it in colors that we made our own. Just bask in these lines- - -
    But outside, it burst
    from my uncupped hands into its element,
    dipping over the dormant garden
    in a spasm of wingbeats
    and disappearing over a tall row of hemlocks.

    Still, for the rest of the day,
    I could feel its wild thrumming
    against my palms whenever I thought
    about the hours the bird must have spent
    pent in the shadows of that room,
    (Report) Reply

  • Seema Jayaraman (12/19/2015 9:23:00 PM)


    The revival of Sparrows! So happy to see this poem here..recently we too have started spotting a few n such a delightful sight.. (Report) Reply

  • Terry Craddock (12/19/2015 7:24:00 PM)


    'The first thing I heard this morning
    was a soft, insistent rustle,
    the rapid flapping of wings
    against glass as it turned out, '


    loved this, the conversation poetic of the first stanza, tuned in the final 'as it turned out, ' then the glorious rich word images developed with such pathos, before the final surprising 'lucky sparrow tucked into a holly bush' and the charming calm beauty of 'a light snow tumbling through the windless dark.' 10+++
    (Report) Reply

  • Kim Barney (12/19/2015 3:28:00 PM)


    Collins brings back many memories of similar events from my past. What a feast! He really brings things alive for me. Thank you. (Report) Reply

  • Francis Lynch (12/19/2015 1:56:00 PM)


    Brilliant re-visiting of an eventful moment of freedom. Well-done. (Report) Reply

  • (12/19/2015 12:35:00 PM)


    Interesting memory of a tactile sensation MM (Report) Reply

  • David Wood (12/19/2015 1:46:00 AM)


    It brings back memories, our cat used to bring in mice from the fields and tiy with them. Lovely poem (Report) Reply

  • Spock The Vegan (12/17/2015 9:14:00 PM)


    Impressive poem by Billy Collins about nature. (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (12/29/2014 7:34:00 PM)


    This is the most beguiling and lovely poem about a wild thrumming moment in time that I have ever been blessed to read. (Report) Reply

Read all 12 comments »




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Poem Submitted: Monday, December 15, 2014



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