The Birds

Jocelyn Powell, who had been both a pupil and a friend, moved to Birmingham in 1961, and there became Director of the University Department of Drama and Theatre Arts. Marion herself was invited to join Birmingham and did so in 1960; but she resigned in resistance to John Russell Brown’s neglect of the justice of starting Honours work with first-years fresh from VI-form training. Jocelyn died unexpectedly in September 1986. At his funeral, Marion read by way of a tribute to him one of his and eight of her own poems. Two of these she significantly altered for the purpose. This group of readings is filed together in the collection of her poetry. I copy them here together, as the tribute she designed, but they will be indexed with the rest of her poems.

What Marion read for Jocelyn in September 1986.


In moments when the sky is broken by the flight of sparrows,
The air above the fountain clouded with doves,
When the wires bend with the weight of swifts,

When the rooks hang like a swarm over the pine trees,
When the swans are lifted up over the lake,
When flamingos light on the waters,

The cry of birds is in the air , the cry of spirits in the wind,
And the insects that come out to savour the damp evening
Hum, buzz, and are devoured.

The birds settle, gossip, are still, and fly:
The grubs dart, hover, and are still:
The Dead at last, their heads beneath their wings, are full.

The crying ceases.