11 NOVEMBER 1932, Page 15

The Fowler

As the poor fowler's cunning net

Patiently (lay by day is set To entrap for man's delight the rare Elusive creatures of the air, So too the poet, fired afresh By hope, spreads out his wordy mesh

To catch those stranger, airier broods—

Moments and memories and moods.

To make a random dream endure,

Or one small fleeting thought secure, He'll spend upon a single phrase Uneasy nights, tormented days.

He'll leave his love to weep alone While all the ecstasy they've known He with his linked lines pursues Lest in oblivion he should lose One drop of sweetness. Or he'll find By some blest quickening of the mind An urgent truth, unguessed before : And then for him content's no more Till in a net of words it lies Beneath mankind's incurious eyes.

Thrice-happy he whose toils have caught,

Unharmed, the quivering birds of thought ; But 0 ! thrice-damned, whose lack of skill Where he'd but capture, makes him kill, Dragging them down with broken wing And crumpled throat, no more to sing.

Here is my ravelled net of words : Where arc the birds ? Where are the birds ?