Bright Wings

An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds

Edited by Billy Collins. Illustrated by David Allen Sibley

Columbia University Press

Bright Wings

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Pub Date: November 2012

ISBN: 9780231150873

288 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $16.95£15.00

Pub Date: October 2009

ISBN: 9780231150842

288 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $22.95£20.00

Bright Wings

An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds

Edited by Billy Collins. Illustrated by David Allen Sibley

Columbia University Press

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.

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, Minneapolis Star Tribune

What's not to love?

Birder's World

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

Isabel Nathaniel, Dallas Morning News

An elegant little compilation.

Des Moines Register

A beautiful anthology.

Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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

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, Country Gardens

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

The Midwest Book Review

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

The Folio

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

Jim Williams, Star Tribune
John James Audubon
Loons Mating
Drifting Off
Mother Carey's Hen
The Birds
The Magnificent Frigatebird
The Frigate Pelican
The Blue Booby
The Heron
Hope and Love
On the Sight of Swans in Kensington Gardens
On the Marriage of Friends
Swan and Shadow
Wild Geese
The Teal
From Woody's Restaurant, Middlebury
Still, Citizen Sparrow
To a Farmer Who Hung Five Hawks on His Barbed Wire
Evening Hawk
You and I Saw Hawks Exchanging the Prey
from The Parliament of Fowls
Peregrine Falcon, New York City
The Dalliance of Eagles
A Bird at the Leather Mill
The Coot
On a 3½ oz. Lesser Yellow Legs, Departed Boston August 28, Shot Martinique September 3
The Ballet of the Fifth Year
The Kittiwake
After Reading Peterson's Guide
Lost Parrot
The Contrast; The Parrot and the Wren
The Great Horned Owl
A Barred Owl
To a Captive Owl
An Owl
Great Grey Owl
The Owl
The Owl
Chimney Swifts
The Kingfisher
The Kingfisher
The Woodpecker Keeps Returning
The Woodpecker
Arts of Joy
Black Phoebe
The Shrike
Still Missing the Jays
Magpie's Song
Paired Things
The Calves Not Chosen
The Crows Start Demanding Royalties
The Questions Poems Ask
Ravens at Deer Creek
The Ravens of Denali
Ode to the Swallow
The Swallow
The Emperor's Bird's-Nest
Watching the Swallows
from The Princess; O Swallow
Home-Thoughts, from Abroad
Cliff Swallows
The Blue Swallows
December Notes
In Walden wood the chickadee
The Bluebirds
The Darkling Thrush
I have a Bird in spring
Love's Good-Morrow
To Robin Red-Breast
Poor Cock Robin
The Death of Lesbia's Bird
Of the Air
Cedar Waxwings
Cedar Waxwing on Scarlet Firethorn
A Warbler Annoucing Spring at Morning
The Happy Bird
Bird Watching
The Cardinal
Cardinals in a Shower at Union Square
A Pair of Tanagers
Brave Sparrow
Love Song
Christmas Sparrow
Sparrow Trapped in the Airport
Partita for Sparrows
Old Acquaintance
The Call of the Junco Bird
Redwing Blackbirds
Red-Winged Blackbirds
The Birds
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Keeping track
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
The Faithful Friend
The Caged Goldfinch
For the Birds: A Charm of Goldfinches
Rara Avis
Index of Poets and Poems
Index of Birds

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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