Ode to Hidden Splendor

I heard your rolling croon beyond my vision
Blooming in the balm of winter’s breeze—
A thrilling spill of crystalline precision
Amid the Spanish moss draped on the trees.
My heart took flight with each falsetto note,
Then fluttered at the height of your refrains—
The dazzle and pizzazz of soaring song
Rising from your silken-feathered throat.
Your air, beyond compare on coastal plains,
Resounded with a twang so sweet and strong.

Yet when I looked above for lemon wings
With cobalt tints and glints of scarlet down
(A rainbow-garbed soprano trilling hymns)
My eyes fell on your form of dusty brown.
All set to spy a diva of the sky,
I reeled and gasped in wonder and surprise.
Oh, Carolina Wren I must declare,
I would have passed your majesty right by
Had I not seen you sing with my own eyes,
Oh, shy and tiny gem extraordinaire!

And now I scan the shadows for a pearl.
I comb drab corners for a golden ray.
I watch the buds and butterflies unfurl
And hunt for silver in the greyest day.
I walk the darkest paths among the ferns,
Where cobwebs decked with diamonds lace the verge,
And armadillos doze till dawn of night.
I relish misty routes of twists and turns,
Remembering your lush, symphonious surge
That dipped your hidden splendor in the light.




He came in the summer when dragonflies drifted.
He whirred and he darted through days dredged in gold.
He came when the creepy grew pretty and lifted
Their flittering wings to sweet nectar’s threshold. .

He stayed in the fall when the fireflies flickered.
He dazzled with russet and emerald panache.
His brethren migrated as mockingbirds bickered.
He supped from lush trumpets and missed the mass dash.

He stayed in the winter—a glittering soldier.
He battled through snow in the Texas big freeze.
He fussed and he buzzed at his icicled feeder.
I fed him warm syrup infused with my pleas.

He stayed hale and feisty—my shimmering warrior.
He fought for his life in the jaws of the chill.
In the melt of this moment, I couldn’t be merrier.
A hummingbird hero, he’s hovering still!



Susan Jarvis Bryant is a church secretary and poet whose homeland is Kent, England.  She is now an American citizen living on the coastal plains of Texas.  Susan has poetry published in the UK webzine, Lighten Up On Line, The Daily Mail, and Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets).

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41 Responses


    Susan, these are both gorgeous triumphs of avian delight. Of the two, I prefer the Ode which is full of charming and exciting images, words and rhymes. I think my favorite line is “where cobwebs decked with diamonds lace the verge” because it’s so musical to speak in the best Tennyson-like way. I also like the “rainbow-garbed soprano trilling hymns.” Rufous also has great charm and in some ways is the more moving poem of the two since you are actually describing a relationship with your little hummingbird friend. These made me smile. Thank you for a lovely Spring offering.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, I appreciate your fine eye and I’m over the moon you enjoyed the poems. Where the little wren is concerned, I am actually quite ashamed of myself for thinking that his understated beauty would prevent him from singing the song of the heavens… I’m sure there’s a moral lesson for life lodged in there somewhere. 😉

  2. Gail

    Yay! Anna’s stay all winter here, and the white-throated sparrow has the best song. There are transient tanagers, and Evening Grosbeaks near Mother’s Day who can outdo the sparrow, but they aren’t as steadfast and reliable. Though a best memory is Evening Grosbeaks flocking in a rhododendron garden near my home during a Mother’s Day brunch we attended on the estate–a donation made to the parks department. Evocative as ever!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Gail, I am glad you appreciate birds as much as I do, and you appear to have a fine array of fancy feathered friends in your region. I’ve just looked up the Anna – how pretty! We have the ruby throated and the rufous here… although just 60 or so miles south there are plenty more varieties. Coming from a country that doesn’t have hummingbirds, I’m besotted. I also love rhododendrons. Your mention of them has taken me back to many an English castle with flowerbeds bursting with an explosion of brightly colored rhododendron blooms… beautiful!

  3. Margaret Coats

    Both charming poems, Susan–and with all your usual skill at maximizing alliteration. Glad Rufous is there to give you a relaxing merry moment! The ode works classically as a poem of praise in three differentiated parts, and although Ben Jonson considered part three to be the “Stand,” you have effectively given it motion (that is, made it a “Search” for more hidden splendor). Excuse me for wondering how a surge can “dip” splendor in the light at the end of the poem (maybe the wren was hiding in the shade and pushed it up), but the alternative that occurred to me is, “That slipped your hidden splendor into light.” Photos too are beautifully done!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Margaret, thank you very much for your (as ever) interesting and informative comment. I must confess that Ben Jonson’s “Stand” is new to me. I am just becoming familiar with this intriguing form, and you have inspired me to try an ode with the Stand in mind.

      I am sorry the “dip” wasn’t clear. The wren was in the dark canopy of a live oak… he was so dull in color, had it not been for his symphonious surge of song, I would never have seen him. His song dipped him into the light/my sight. I can see how this is confusing and thank you for your appropriate alternative.

  4. Michael Dashiell

    A lovely, well-written, and inspired poem. The love prevails.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      I appreciate you dropping by and commenting. Thank you, Daniel.

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    In “Ode,” readers should note how Mrs. Bryant makes use of internal rhyme in several lines:

    “thrilling spill” (line 3)
    “flight … height” (line 5 – 6)
    “dazzle … pizazz (line 7)
    “air … compare” (line 9)
    “glints … tints” (line 12)
    “spy … sky” (line 15)
    “shy … tiny” (line 20)
    “greyest … day” (line 24)

    Some of these may be unintentional, but others seem deliberate.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe S., Thank you for this. As, by now, you are no doubt aware, I am a fan of internal rhyme. I love the musicality of it and I like the way it colors otherwise bland sentences. To me the sounds are an aural delight. The majority are deliberate, but I have become so familiar with employing them, they often appear subconsciously. I know they are not everyone’s cup of tea, and I am experimenting with less ornate creations. It’s very strange, but I’ll admit to finding it difficult to do without them… is there such a thing as an internal rhyme addiction? I think I’m ready for rehab! lol

  6. Sally Cook

    Oh, Susan! and Oh, Rufous! Both lovely poems. I already knew you had saved Rufous’ life with warm syrup, and now you have immortalize him. Your poems sparkle with life !

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Sally, I’m thrilled to hear my poems are sparkling with life… it’s all down to those marvelous avian angels sneaking into my heart and spilling out onto the SCP page for everyone to see. Thank you very much, my friend!

  7. C.B. Anderson

    Sometimes I don’t know whether your lines are meant to edify or to stupefy the reader. Of course, both things can happen at the same time, but “special effects” are not always necessary to get your crystal-clear messages across.

    Your avian themes are sharp and evocative, but please tell me what sort of person doesn’t like birds (except for those who have to scrape the droppings off their windshields). I eat birds all the time, and in between I watch them. They are the metaphor of our prospective flight to Heaven.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., thank you for dropping by and reading my poems. As for whether I intended to edify or stupefy… stupefy??… heaven forbid… snigger… snigger, I didn’t intend to do either. I was just having a bit of linguistic fun inspired by the wonder of birds. As for your question of what sort of person doesn’t like birds, Tippi Hedren springs to mind. 😉 I must say, I simply adore your, “They are the metaphor of our prospective flight to Heaven” observation. I believe, on this point, you are absolutely right.

  8. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, Rufous is a very lucky fellow to the subject of such a beautiful poem. Superbly crafted as ever, these two are an absolute joy to read. I will now be giving my resident swarm of Goldfinches extra rations in the morning. Best wishes to your hovering hummingbird hero.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Jeff! It’s wonderful to hear you have a swarm of Goldfinches. We have a couple of American Goldfinches here – they are quite beautiful… and, would you believe it, we have a ton of English sparrows. Of all the birds to follow me over from my homeland, why them!? I miss our blackbirds and our numerous tits… especially the blue ones!

  9. Yael

    Beautifully crafted poems, as always, Susan. Thank you, I really enjoy both of them. Especially the ode, which has a sparkle that reminds me of sunshine reflected in a million points of light off a whitewater river as seen on a morning raft trip.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yael, thank you very much for your truly magnificent comment. When I see a comment like this from your good self, I wonder why you are not on the pages of SCP with a poem… your image is glorious! With much gratitude.

  10. Mo

    Both your poems are lovely, but the ode particularly struck me. You gave that little wren the honor he deserved in all his humility. It warmed my heart that your appreciation of him exalted him high above his simple being to one we should all cherish. Thank you for putting him up there.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Mo, I am so glad I was able to honor that glorious little wren. I intended to do just that with my ode to him, and to hear I achieved it has made me glow with joy. Thank you very much for your lovely comment.

  11. Paul Freeman

    Two wonderful pieces of verse.

    I particularly liked the second poem, Susan. The rhythm and repetition and the progression through the seasons brought the hummingbird’s precariousness and spirit to life. The injection of the poet into the last line of the third stanza worked well.

    The last line jarred a bit for me – though obviously not for others. Maybe making the bird’s heroism more a fact than an authorial opinion would work better, i.e. ‘A hummingbird hero, he’s hovering still!’

    I stand to be berated, er ‘corrected’.

    As always, thanks for the read.

    • Gail

      Mr. Freeman has expressed well what I did not for fear of my own ineptitude. And, because I’m an unpoetical interloper!

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Gail, I always appreciate suggestions on my poetry. If you have an appreciation for poetry, you have an opinion I’m eager to hear. I look forward to hearing yours in the future. I always consider my poems works in progress… I love to edit them… I think of them as jigsaw puzzles with a few pieces out of place and a few pieces missing… if anyone can find those pieces or set the picture straight… I’m a happy poet.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Paul, thank you for your considered comment. Firstly, I’m glad you enjoyed the poems. Secondly, and more importantly, I appreciate your valid observation on the closing line of “Rufous”. I agree totally and will change it accordingly. On looking at it with a fresh eye, I believe I was a tad heavy-handed and your suggestion is perfect. With much gratitude.

      When it comes to discussing poetry I’m a pussycat. I only turn into a tiger when politics come into play. 😉

  12. Julian D. Woodruff

    Marvelous, both, Susan. I was struck by these aids to unity in the ode: 1) the 4trains all end with a full stop; 2) there is a strong reliance on syllables in which the letter r follows a vowel (17 of the 30 lines, counting only accented syllables). Of course, these r words increase in frequency as the poem progresses, and end 8 of the last 15 lines.
    Your tale of the survivor is syrupy in the best sense. It reminded me of discovering our cat playing with a fledgling fallen from our mulberry tree. I rescued it and over the weekend fed it through a basting syringe with water and cat food. Off to the vet with it on Monday; he released it Wednesday or Thursday. Hardy little critters!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Julian, I absolutely love your observations on my ode. I can most certainly tell you’re a musician with an ear and an eye for the finest details of a piece, which all add the the lyrical quality and flow. Thank you!!

      You are also a feathered-friend lover after my own heart. What a lucky fledgling to have been saved from kitty claws, nursed to strength, and released to freedom! I hope you didn’t tell the cat his entree was fed to his potential appetizer. In fact, your story reminds me that I saved a ruby-throated hummingbird from the jaws of our cat, George. The hummer hovered for too long at a level low enough for a cat to swipe him from the air… only, I saw. I pried him from George’s mouth. He lay limp in my palm. I could feel his heartbeat and after a minute or two, this gorgeous feathered jewel took to the air… it was one of the best feelings, ever!!

  13. Cynthia Erlandson

    I love these, too, Susan, and since there are so many comments already, I’ll just add my praise for my favorite of your very creative rhymes: declare / extraordinaire, and warrior / merrier!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, Cynthia. I always appreciate you dropping by and I am heartened to hear you like my warrior/merrier rhyme… a little frisson of fear ran down my spine when I married those two words… I thought it might incur the wrath of the rhyme gods. 😉 You have made my evening.

  14. David Watt

    Susan, both poems are wonderfully descriptive, and capture the great
    allure of birds, even those hidden beneath the veil of drabness.
    I loved the triumph of character displayed in ‘Rufous’. Birds are determined creatures, offering surprises and pleasure.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, I’m glad you enjoyed these, and thank you for taking the time to comment. “Determined” is an apt word to use to describe our avian friends. Their resilience never fails to surprise me. I honestly thought our little Rufous wouldn’t survive the Texas Big Freeze… it just goes to show that a slight elevation in the temperature of the planet may not be as harmful as Chicken Little predicts.

      • Paul Freeman

        A localised weather event and global climate shifts were two of the many concepts the previous president did not understand.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        You never fail to surprise me with your understated wit, Mr. Freeman. This is British sarcasm at its finest. The mere idea of an oaf of a self-made billionaire ever outshining the sparkling intellect of our current China-owned White House resident is absolutely hilarious. We appear to have the same sense of humour! LOL

  15. Joe Tessitore

    Mrs T and I own a home in the middle of nowhere in Nova Scotia.
    One day a hummingbird flew into the open door of the town library and couldn’t get out. She flew frantically back and forth just beneath the ceiling ‘till she eventually collapsed on a bookshelf.
    I took her outside while the librarian fetched a neighbor’s feeder and we put her beak into one of the yellow flower spouts.
    She eventually began to drink and suddenly flew away.
    Little things can be the greatest blessings.

    Thank you, Susan, for your lovely poetry, which is a major blessing.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe, what an amazing hummingbird story. Your little hummer must have run out of energy with all that buzzing back and forth in a frenzy to escape. Thank goodness you were there to release her to her rightful surrounds.

      I’ve come to learn from this page that poets are not only good with words… they’re good for birds. 🙂

  16. Martin Rizley

    These poems brought back memories of our backyard when my wife and daughter and I lived in Texas. We were blessed to have a variety of birds flutter and flit into our yard each day to put on an extravaganza for our enjoyment. All manner of birds– blue birds, woodpeckers, cardinals, wrens, hummingbirds, etc.– would come and go throughout the day in a constant show outside our dining room window.

    I love the last stanza of the first poem, as you point out how the wren´s song has led you to look for and find beauty shining forth from the most unlikely corners. Very nice!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Martin, thank you very much for your lovely comment.

      Kent in the UK is full of bird life (which I’ve always reveled in), but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer numbers and varieties of birds here in Texas. Mike and I are lucky enough to live on a migratory path, and we are blessed with an abundance of birds. I learned pretty early on that this was a special place. When I first arrived in Texas, Mike took me to Brazos Bend State Park to see the alligators. There was a guy there with a huge lens trained on the swamp. Eager to see the alligator, I asked him where it was. Not only did I find out the man was from my homeland… he had also travelled 5000 miles from there, not for the alligators, but, for the birds! Having lived here for ten years, I now know why.

      As for those “unlikely corners”, I have found most of life’s unexpected and rare gems in them… I find it’s much more rewarding to take the road less traveled. 🙂


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