The Orchard Path
When wintering birds gathered

by Michael Hamburger

When wintering birds gathered
Under an apple tree
To feed on fallen fruit.
Visiting fieldfare mixed with blackbird, missel thrush,
Chaffinch, hedge-sparrow, robin,
Blue-tit, drawn down to earth
For a dole of sustenance
Disdained while berries clung,
Worm and snail stirred.

Bullfinch, long missed, few in
Before buds could swell.
Wren, rare goldcrest braved
Marauding magpie, gull.

Hard weather mingled them all,
Hunger, but starved not one
Nor left one killed in battle.


Extract from 'Late' (Anvil Press Poetry, 1997)