A Minor Key

One spring a few years ago, a bird outside my bedroom window sang his morning song in a minor key.  It was six notes–three and then another three–with a quicker rhythm in the second set.  I never again heard this song sung in exactly the same way, but I listen for it every spring.

Robert Frost in his  poem “A Minor Bird”  regrets shooing away a bird whose song is not as sweet and melodic as others.  Music in a minor key, such as some of Beethoven’s sonatas, usually evokes sadness.   I think we need to connect to that sadness at times.  It helps us deal with our hidden emotions that we may try to cover up in the course of our day.

What’s interesting to me about poetry is the way poets write about the world around them in metaphor and the way they use their heightened powers of observation to enable others to see the world in a new way.  I used to tell my students when they claimed they had nothing to write about that a poet could see an ant slowly crawling across a patio and create an unforgettable image about it.  The rest of the world might not even notice the ant or might just step on it and go about their day.  The poet would make us stop our frantic pace in life and be inspired by the determination of an ant to carry a crumb of food to a far destination.

Spring comes every year for me accompanied by the hope that I might once again hear the bird’s morning song in a minor key the way it was that one April morning when waking up was made so much more joyful by the music outside my window.

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