Quills and Feathers

Great Blue Heron

At twilight it rises off the polished mirror pond,

on cupped wings moves gray and steady above

the ripples of grassland, circling only to circle back.

All day it stalks the dark shallows for a meal,

all this orange season on stick-legs trolls to survive,

sporting its feather necklace, its backward head plume.

Often we are strangers to Earth, stumbling over the thorns

of our days. Here, sky sets fire to the silk sleeves

of its clouds. If you love this planet, stand at attention,

take only what you need, only what is rightfully yours.

Heron, Great Blue

Ardea herodias

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This is the second Great Blue Heron poem by Nebraska poet Twyla Hansen in this digital collection. Which do you prefer, and why? In this poem, what phrases do you find to be most effective? (I lean towards "stalks the dark shallows" and "orange season.") How do you explain the apparently radical break in subject matter between the first two stanzas and the last, which introduces "we"? What is the connection (and contrast)? Is the "message" of the final stanza too didactic, or powerfully appropriate?

Bibliographical information

Author: Hansen, Twyla (1949-)Johnsgard, Paul A. (1931-)

Book: Prairie Suite: A Celebration

Date: 2006

Publisher: Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center

Project Information

Genre: Poetry