The Magpie’s Chorus

With sunlight at full power
And silence in the air,
I sought a shaded bower,
A cool drink, and a chair.
But then, I heard the trilling
Of magpies in the trees
Pour out like liquid filling
The desiccated breeze.

They put on airs and graces,
In obvious delight
At raising piebald faces
To launch their song in flight;
And in the process, showing
That sound waves travel best
Through spaces brightly glowing
From summer’s heat expressed.

I hear their sweet song often
In seasons less intense;
But when their trebles soften
I lose the inner sense
That all the world is listening
With boundless gratitude
To notes so pure they’re glistening
On peaks of amplitude.

Give me the magpie’s chorus
When summer’s at its height;
Their lilting song calls for us
To linger in that light
Which some may find oppressive,
Or blinding to the eye—
To thrill at trills impressive,
And lift our spirits high.



Brighter Horizons

I have seen the sunrise over
An expanse of brightening sea
As I wandered like a rover,
Long before you came to me.

I have seen the sun rise early,
In its haste to pack a punch,
So the city’s hurly-burly
Settled down in time for lunch.

I have seen the sun rise scarlet
With its garish face in smoke,
Like a stogie puffing harlot
On the lookout for a bloke.

I have seen the sunlight struggle
When midwinter morns hung bleak;
And the birds stayed in to snuggle
Up together, beak to beak.

I can’t count those mornings, weary,
When the sun rose far too soon
For my eyes, still tired and bleary,
To regard her light till noon.

I have seen the sunrise stolen
By the depths of placid lakes,
And regretted brilliance swollen
Washing out to silver flakes.

But no matter place or season,
Every sunrise now is grand,
For the one important reason—
That your face is close at hand.



David Watt is a writer from Canberra, the “Bush Capital” of Australia. He has contributed regularly to Collections of Poetry and Prose by Robin Barratt. When not working for IP (Intellectual Property) Australia, he finds time to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of traditional rhyming poetry.

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33 Responses

  1. Tonia

    That last verse of Brighter …. . Says so much and is so
    relevant to these present times.

    • David Watt

      Thank you Tonia. We definitely need our brighter horizons these days.

  2. Paul Freeman

    Your poetry’s fair dinkum, mate,
    Bill Wordsworth I recalled;
    that inward eye and nature stuff
    has thoroughly enthralled.

    Thanks for the read, David. As you can see above, I’m a fan.

    • Cynthia Erlandson

      I really like this four-liner, Paul! (And it’s really fun that you’re on a first-name basis with Bill Wordsworth!) 🙂

    • David Watt

      Paul, I really appreciate your comments, and your poetic response.

    • David Watt

      Thank you Beverley. Magpies are one of my favorite birds. They always seem to be in high spirits.

  3. Jeff Eardley

    David, these are brilliant. I will never again treat a Magpie as a doom laden desecrator of my bird table. I love the “stogie-puffing harlot on the look out for a bloke” and birds snuggling “beak to beak” Great lines, great images, Les Patterson would be impressed.

    • David Watt

      Hello Jeff, the stogie-puffing harlot is one of more colorful metaphors I’ve used. I’m sure Les Patterson would approve of that one.

  4. Benjamen Grinberg

    Delicious. I read a fellow commentator describe a poem as such and was a bit taken back by the effervescence. But I know that this word is how I would describe the poetry of the sunrise poem.

    • David Watt

      Thanks for your kind comments Benjamen. One thing about sunrises is that no two are ever the same.

  5. Cynthia Erlandson

    I agree with Jeff about the amazing metaphor in the third verse of “Horizons.” And I love “The Magpie’s Chorus”, especially the “glistening on peaks of amplitude”!

    • David Watt

      Hello Cynthia. I wondered at the time of writing ‘glistening on peaks of amplitude’ whether it was a stretch too far. But fortunately, amplitude and mountains have peaks in common.

  6. C.B. Anderson

    Both poems were very nice, David, and rhymes were great, some of them quite surprising. Even the stolen/swollen slant rhyme was carried off with great finesse. I just looked it up, and it turns out that “swollen” too is pronounced with a long “O.” In my dialect it sounds more like the first syllable in “swallow.” Either way, it’s a near thing, which, in my opinion , is the best way to go when it comes pairing rhymes that might not be exact.

    Furthermore, the progression of ideas and images in both poems was lucid and faultless.

    • David Watt

      C.B., we do pronounce swollen with a long “O” in our part of the world. I generally like to use perfect rhymes, but this pair were pretty close, as you have said. I’m gratified that you found the ideas and images lucid in both poems. Sometimes it can be easy to lose track of clear progression.

  7. Joe Tessitore

    May I add my voice to those above – wonderful poetry and “a stogie-puffing harlot” is brilliant.

    • David Watt

      Thanks Joe. In the morning after a bushfire there would more than a few people agreeing with the ‘stogie-puffing harlot’ metaphor.

  8. Jan Darling

    David – your Magpies captures their spirit beautifully. Unlike the lark which addresses itself to the firmament, magpies trill and sing to each other. Sometimes they just seem to sing for sheer joy, when alone on a branch, beak raised, feathers trembling at the throat, one will offer to the world an exquisite hymn of praise. Lovely poetry. Thank you.

    • David Watt

      Thank you Jan. It’s true that magpies love to sing in company, and do so with obvious pleasure. It may be a common bird, but its song is uncommonly melodic.

  9. Margaret Coats

    “Pour out like liquid filling/The dessicated breeze” is my choice as an unexpectedly delightful expression. It first reads as though magpies were in the kitchen producing pie filling–but then, where to put it? In the breeze? Wonderful. And “Brighter Horizons” is composed with care. The little hint in the first stanza leads through a series of stanzas that begin with similar clauses (“I have seen the sun . . .”), to one that breaks that pattern, then a re-start settling into the resolution of the final line. Excellent meditative technique.

    • David Watt

      Margaret, thanks for taking the time to comment in your ever-thoughtful manner. Our breeze hasn’t been quite as desiccated this summer, as we have had more rain than usual. I daresay that next summer will be back with renewed intensity.

  10. Yael

    Both of these poems I find thoroughly enjoyable, thank you. I can completely relate to the first one as I have always enjoyed listening to birds, and the second poem contains the most delightfully diverse imagery where the overall love theme is framed in sunrise observations which are illustrated in the most surprising ways. Everything from the stogie puffing harlot to the silver flakes is fresh and interesting and original.

    • Peter Hartley

      David – I liked both of these, particularly the first which is the only good word I’ve read of the magpie. The European magpie with the domestic cat has more or less done for the song birds in my garden. Just one more thing that makes me jealous of your living in such a wonderful part of the world.

      • David Watt

        Peter, a percentage of Australian male magpies swoop on passers by during the nesting season. But their love of trilling far outweighs this seasonal aggression. Female magpies have the loudest song, but both sexes love to sing.
        It’s a pity that European magpies in league with cats have killed many of your songbirds. I’ve heard that nightingales are
        particularly under threat in the U.K.
        Thanks for your comments.

    • David Watt

      Thank you Yael. I endeavor to write interesting and original pieces. It is most encouraging that you find they have met this goal.

  11. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    David, both poems are admirably crafted with engaging images that capture my imagination and tap into my love of nature. I am very familiar with British magpies. They are loud, squawking and naughty… stealing anything shiny for their stash. I’ve never heard them sing mellifluously, and this makes me yearn to hear the song of your Australian magpie…. the magpie that has charmed me in the verses of your beautiful poetry.

    I, like Jeff, love the ““stogie-puffing harlot on the look out for a bloke” – what an innovative way to describe a sunset… but after the bush fires this screams out as most appropriate.

    David, you are an SCP star!

    • David Watt

      Thank you Susan for your most generous comments.
      Our magpies are quite common, and could easily be taken for granted if they didn’t have a love of trilling. We often laugh to see them running across roads rather than expend energy through flying. I guess you could say they have character.
      The stogie-puffing harlot was an enjoyable image to write.


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