Curious thing... I just discovered (reading a bio in this month's Poetry magazine) that Elena Shvarts, whom I've been out of touch with for a while, has a new book out from Bloodaxe Books, in England. The title is Birdsong on the Seabed. & it makes me wonder : is she taking the title from this poem, which she addressed to me (it was originally published in Russian, in a book of hers in St. Petersburg - this is my own, probably-inaccurate translation) :

To the Poet Henry Gould in the City of Providence

At your time's perihelion
the bird-clock sings.
Strange hours on the wall - as
if Keats devised their workings.
When, over there, an owl
hoots, representing midnight,
here a raven drops a crust
beside my windowpane.
I myself am on the wane -
needle-thin, grown accurate,
wheezing over cheap tea in winter
sunlight, a pudgy nightingale.
He, in deep dark, without hope
- poet left alone with his icon,
still-ineffable loving brother -
offers his Promised Land…

Over the ocean, two birds feed
halfway - and where they salute,
fallen rooted to the sea-floor,
a pearl aches - ripening
under the hard bark of the waves.


I will have to get ahold of that book, & find out! p.s. the "bird-clock" she refers to is an Audubon Society singing clock (with different bird-calls for the hours), which I sent over to her, & which she seemed to enjoy. (I had to keep sending her battery replacements. & a new clock, after her apartment fire.)


p.s. next day : I WAS WRONG. Wishful thinking. Got ahold of the book. Title comes from an earlier poem by ES.

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