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Dahilia Ravilovitch, “The Sound of Birds at Noon”

“The Sound of Birds at Noon” is a very different poem than the others in Ravilovitch’s collection. The lines “They sing without giving us a thought,” “Some are rare, some are common,/but every wing is grace,” “This chirp is entirely free of malice” employ an entirely different voice than “when that hand closes over her hair, grasping it/without a shred of pity,” or “first they shot/then they hanged/ then they slaughtered with their knives.” These disturbing graphic images gave me a sense of deep emotional turmoil roiling throughout the other poems. However, the narrator speaks of the birds in a distant, almost scientific way.

The use of pronouns is also very different. In every other poem in this collection the pronouns I, your, and our are scattered throughout as if Ravilovitch is putting humanity’s stamp of ownership on the poems. “The Sound of Birds at Noon” doesn’t have this possessive note to it. The birds are referred to as they or their, further distancing them from human meddling. I would almost call this poem childish except for the very subtle notes of tension, particularly in the last line that provides a distant connection between the two worlds. “Over the years/ it even seems to have/a note of compassion.” My take on this is that the birds are so free from humanity that they can afford to feel compassion for us.

It is interesting that Ravilovitch would choose to incorporate this poem in among her other works. I suspect that it was to give the reader a bit of a breather from some of her darker works, but also to provide a contrast for the human world that she is painting. The poem’s placement gives the reader a sense that this dark world shown in the other poems isn’t the only one out there. While this airy world might not be a human one, it still coexists with it up to a point. It also gives me a sense of concern for this world of birds. I cannot help but wonder how long it will remain so distant from humans.

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