Book Details

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    • November 2012
    • 9780231150873
  • 288 Pages
  • Paperback
  • $16.95
  • / £11.95


    • October 2009
    • 9780231150842
  • 288 Pages
  • Hardcover
  • $22.95
  • / £15.95


Bright Wings

An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds

Edited by Billy Collins; Drawings by David Allen Sibley

In this beautiful collection of poems and paintings, Billy Collins, former U.S. poet laureate, joins with David Allen Sibley, America's foremost bird illustrator, to celebrate the winged creatures that have inspired so many poets to sing for centuries. From Catullus and Chaucer to Robert Browning and James Wright, poets have long treated birds as powerful metaphors for beauty, escape, transcendence, and divine expression.

Here, in this substantial anthology, more than one hundred contemporary and classic poems are paired with close to sixty original, ornithologically precise illustrations. Part poetry collection, part field guide, part art book, Bright Wings presents verbal and visual interpretations of the natural world and reminds us of our intimate connection to the "bright wings" around us. Each in their own way, these poems and pictures honor the enchanting creatures that have been, and continue to be, longtime collaborators with the poet's and painter's art.

Poet and bird pairings include: Wallace Stevens and the Blackbird; Emily Dickinson and the Robin; Marianne Moore and the Frigate Pelican; Thomas Hardy and the Goldfinch; Sylvia Plath and the Pheasant; John Updike and the Seagull; Walt Whitman and the Eagle; Billy Collins and the Sparrow.

About the Author

Billy Collins is Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College and the author of eight books of poetry, including Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry: and Other Poems, Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the World, and Questions About Angels, which was selected by Edward Hirsch for the National Poetry Series. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and has served two terms as the poet laureate of the United States, along with one term as New York State Poet. Collins divides his time between New York and Winter Park, Florida.

David Allen Sibley has spent most of his life traveling across North America, studying and drawing the natural world. With the National Audubon Society, he published The Sibley Guide to Birds in 2004 and The Sibley Guide to Trees in 2009. He lives with his family in Concord, Massachusetts, and his work can be viewed at

An intelligent assembly of poems that take us places where prose cannot go.... This little book is a reminder that everything important about birds can't be found in guide books or scientific papers.

Jim Williams

What's not to love?Birder's World

Part poetry anthology, part field guide, Bright Wings is a delight.

Isabel Nathaniel

An elegant little compilation.

A beautiful anthology.

Jim Higgins

[Collins & Sibley] have created a veritable jeweled music box... sure to appeal to birdlovers and poetry fans alike.The West Australian

Whether metaphorical or purely observational, the verses provide a wealth of details and, as a group, form a literary guide to the behavior of bird and birder.

Adam Levine

Rarely has poetry and art been so deftly partnered.... A truly impressive anthology.

Collins has done his homework, ponying up those who should never be forgotten nor hidden away in an English Lit syllabus.

A reminder that everything important about birds can't be found in guide books or scientific papers.

Jim Williams

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionJohn James AudubonLoons MatingDrifting OffMother Carey's HenThe BirdsPelicanThe Magnificent FrigatebirdThe Frigate PelicanThe Blue BoobyThe HeronHope and LoveOn the Sight of Swans in Kensington GardensOn the Marriage of FriendsSwan and ShadowWild GeeseThe TealFrom Woody's Restaurant, MiddleburyStill, Citizen SparrowTo a Farmer Who Hung Five Hawks on His Barbed WireEvening HawkYou and I Saw Hawks Exchanging the Preyfrom The Parliament of FowlsPeregrine Falcon, New York CityMake-FalconThe Dalliance of EaglesPheasantA Bird at the Leather MillThe CootPloverShorebird-WatchingOn a 3½ oz. Lesser Yellow Legs, Departed Boston August 28, Shot Martinique September 3SandpiperThe Ballet of the Fifth YearSeagullsThe KittiwakeAfter Reading Peterson's GuideLost ParrotThe Contrast; The Parrot and the WrenThe Great Horned OwlA Barred OwlTo a Captive OwlAn OwlGreat Grey OwlThe OwlThe OwlChimney SwiftsSwiftsSwiftsHumming-BirdThe KingfisherThe KingfisherThe Woodpecker Keeps ReturningThe WoodpeckerArts of JoyBlack PhoebeThe ShrikeStill Missing the JaysMagpie's SongPaired ThingsThe Calves Not ChosenThe Crows Start Demanding RoyaltiesThe Questions Poems AskRavens at Deer CreekThe Ravens of DenaliOde to the SwallowThe SwallowThe Emperor's Bird's-NestWatching the Swallowsfrom The Princess; O SwallowHome-Thoughts, from AbroadCliff SwallowsThe Blue SwallowsDecember NotesIn Walden wood the chickadeeTitmouseThe BluebirdsThe Darkling ThrushThrushesI have a Bird in springLove's Good-MorrowTo Robin Red-BreastPoor Cock RobinThe Death of Lesbia's BirdOf the AirCedar WaxwingsCedar Waxwing on Scarlet FirethornSongA Warbler Annoucing Spring at MorningThe Happy BirdBird WatchingThe CardinalCardinals in a Shower at Union SquareA Pair of TanagersBrave SparrowLove SongChristmas SparrowSparrow Trapped in the AirportPartita for SparrowsVisitiationOld AcquaintanceThe Call of the Junco BirdRedwing BlackbirdsRed-Winged BlackbirdsThe BirdsThirteen Ways of Looking at a BlackbirdKeeping trackGracklesRose-Breasted GrosbeakThe Faithful FriendThe Caged GoldfinchFor the Birds: A Charm of GoldfinchesRara AvisIndex of Poets and PoemsIndex of Birds