Friday, October 23, 2009

Poetry Friday - The Animals Are Leaving

My son has been reading books about endangered and extinct animals. While I love the books he reads, I'm partial to some sad but moving poetry on the subject. Here's one I particularly like.
The Animals are Leaving
by Charles Harper Webb

One by one, like guests at a late party
They shake our hands and step into the dark:
Arabian ostrich; Long-eared kit fox; Mysterious starling.

One by one, like sheep counted to close our eyes,
They leap the fence and disappear into the woods:
Atlas bear; Passenger pigeon; North Island laughing owl;
Great auk; Dodo; Eastern wapiti; Badlands bighorn sheep.

Read the poem in its entirety.
For more poems of extinction look for Swan Song, written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Christopher Wormell. (You can preview this title at Google Books.)

The round up is being hosted by Kelly Herold at Big A little a. Do stop by and take in all the great poetry being shared. Before you go, be sure to check out this week's poetry stretch results. You'll find a cornucopia of double dactyls. Happy poetry Friday all!


  1. Thanks for this link. I especially like Kooser's intro to this poem, and what he says about speaking names -
    "To hold the name of someone or something on our lips is a powerful thing."

  2. A sad poem. I do love the power of naming and Kooser's reference to fallen soldiers.

  3. This is poignant; sad, as Jama says. Thanks, Tricia. I'll visit Kelly's for the rest.

  4. "This steady extinction..."

    When will it stop? How can we stop it?


  5. This poem reminds me that my great-nieces and nephews will not grow up in a world, most likely, with tigers in the wild. Thanks, Tricia.

  6. I love this melancholy poem, esp.

    One by one, like sheep counted to close our eyes,
    They leap the fence and disappear into the woods:

    And then that whole ending stanza. And also how the listing of extinct animals gets one row longer in each stanza.

    Wow, lots of technique going on in this poem. Thanks for sharing!