An Excerpt from The Sparrow by A.F. Moritz

he Sparrow by A.F. Moritz

Death of a Sparrow

From The Sparrow by A.F. Moritz

The twisting dance of the sparrow, delicate
agony, as it tried to bite its wounded shoulder:
circular flurries, brief trembling flights
and fallen landings — then the wait, panting,
a new try for a low perch, a try that fails
and the contortion of brown feathers falls back down
in grey dust and the light green maple flowers
shrivelled, littered there. When I approached,
a fury of terror possessed the sparrow, racking it
with useless struggles, pain, exhaustion,
more terribly distorting the poor wing.
Understanding that nothing could be done
I went, and saw another sparrow fly down,
and the two bob a while as sparrows do
in the high unmown grass and dandelions,
companions. Then the strong one was off,
a willing arrow, gone, curving into the trees.
The next day the sweet body in the grass
lay there, calmer than it had ever been,
even in sleep, in the life of the hungry sparrow:
the winged shape in death more winged still
after pain accomplished slowly, unobserved,
in a long laborious night, once all had flown.


This poem is available as a broadsheet.

A. F. Moritz has been called “one of the best poets of his generation” by John Hollander and “a true poet” by Harold Bloom, who ranks him alongside Anne Carson. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honours throughout North America, including the Award in Literature of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Fellowship, Poetry magazine’s Beth Hokin Prize, the Ingram Merrill Fellowship, and the Griffin Poetry Prize.

The Sparrow: Selected Poems of A. F. Moritz surveys forty-five years of Moritz’s published poems, from earlier, lesser-known pieces to the widely acclaimed works of the last twenty years. Here are poems of mystery and imagination; of identification with the other; of compassion, judgement, and rage; of love and eroticism; of mature philosophical, sociological, and political analysis; of history and current events; of contemplation of nature; of exaltation and ennui, fullness and emptiness, and the pure succession and splendour of earthly nights and days.

The Sparrow is more than a selected poems; it is also a single vast poem, in which the individual pieces can be read as facets of an ever-moving whole. This is the world of A. F. Moritz — a unique combination of lyrical fire and meditative depth, and an imaginative renewal of style and never-ending discovery of form.

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