The last few days have seen many ‘DAYS’.
March 21 was World Poetry Day. It was adopted as such by UNESCO 21 March as World Poetry Day in 1999, at its 30th General Conference. The aim of Poetry Day is towards ‘supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard. World Poetry Day is the occasion to honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster the convergence between poetry and other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media.’ (UNESCO).
March 20 is celebrated as World Sparrow Day (WSD). The Day, celebrated for the first time in 2010, is meant to raise awareness about the house sparrow and the dangers it confronts. World Sparrow Day was established by Mohammed Dilawar who grew up in Nashik, Maharashtra. Birds were a big part of his childhood. As an academic, he came across a student-project about the decline of sparrows in UK, and that got him thinking about the same thing happening in India, and he decided to do something about it. He started Nature Forever Society (NFS) in 2005, and has been recognized as an Environmental Hero. WSD is one of his many initiatives to protect biodiversity.
Let’s bring the two ‘Days’ together with poems about….sparrows.
And interesting, I found two poems which also resonate with what we are going through today.
The first, a poem by the Tamil poet Mahakavi Bharatiyar, is about his yearning for India’s freedom.
Liberation – Little Sparrow: Subramania Bharathi
O May you escape all shackles
And revel in Liberty
Roam about in endless space,
Swim across the whirling air,
Drink the measureless wine of the light
That flows for ever from the azure sky!
Happily twittering and making love
Building a nest beyond danger’s reach
Guarding the fledgling, hatched from the egg
And giving it feed and a wholesome care.
The other, a poem is by Paul Laurence Dunbar who was born in 1872 to two formerly enslaved people from Kentucky and became one of the first influential Black poets in American literature. He sees the sparrow as a bird of peace and hope and love, whose calls our hearts are too deadened to listen to.
The Sparrow: Paul Laurence Dunbar
A little bird, with plumage brown,
Beside my window flutters down,
A moment chirps its little strain,
Ten taps upon my window–pane,
And chirps again, and hops along,
To call my notice to its song;
But I work on, nor heed its lay,
Till, in neglect, it flies away.
So birds of peace and hope and love
Come fluttering earthward from above,
To settle on life’s window–sills,
And ease our load of earthly ills;
But we, in traffic’s rush and din
Too deep engaged to let them in,
With deadened heart and sense plod on,
Nor know our loss till they are gone.
Here is to a world where we make poetry, see sparrows, and importantly, listen to their call!