The Lyrebird – a poem by Dan Campion

The Lyrebird
 
Surely one of the most extraordinary voices in the animal kingdom.
—Jennifer Ackerman in The Bird Way
 
Adept in mimicry, the lyrebird
can sound like almost anything: ax blows,
a banjo’s twang, a cello’s highs and lows,
and scores of different birds. It seems absurd,
so deep a repertoire in just one bird,
and why it’s so prolific no one knows.
Oh, there are theories, couched in careful prose,
but none would dare to claim the final word.
I think the lyrebird gives prose the lie
by telling lies that tell the truth, in verse,
net up, in imitation of the leaves,
the waves, the raptor’s cry, the quarry’s curse.
But lyrebird, too, may deceive. Truths fly
at speeds no swooping peregrine achieves.

Dan Campion is the author of Peter De Vries and Surrealism and co-editor of Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song, a third edition of which was issued in 2019. His poetry has appeared in Poetry, Rolling Stone, and many other magazines. A selection of his poems titled The Mirror Test will be published by MadHat Press in February 2022. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.

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