Cruel Paean

For the past few weeks I’d caught it
echoing across the village, a lazy iambic chant.

When you heard it too, we smiled together
at the rare sound of the cuckoo’s two-note song.

We forgot that it’s a cold-hearted parasite,
hatched and nurtured to the tune of another bird’s lullaby.

We were oblivious to its innate cruelty
to the builders of the invaded nest, those patient warblers.

We ignored the murder of eggs and chicks
ousted by a ravenous foster child intoning its spring paean.

Kim M. Russell, 6th June 2019

File:Reed warbler cuckoo.jpg
Image found on

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetry Form: the Ghazal

Grace is our host this Thursday, supporting Gay with more examples of the ghazal. She reminds us that we can refer to Gay’s article for tips on writing the ghazal, traditional or contemporary. I decided that this time I would try a contemporary ghazal.  

24 thoughts on “Cruel Paean

    1. Thank you, Jane. I’ve just finished my preparation for the weekend examiners’ conference. My head is fit to burst from staring at a screen! I’m off to get my bag ready for tomorrow morning, and then to bed. I’ll be back to read and comment on Sunday morning.


      1. Thanks Jane. I’m on the train on my way home now and will soon be arriving in Cambridge. After that, another hour and a half and a 40 min cab ride.


  1. I like this and I smiled the second time through as you through handsful of anapests among the iambs and a few other change-ups as well. It’s truly modern and follows well with your previous ghazals. I like the risks you took her and I like the story you weave as well. Excellent work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the contemporary ghazal with the theme of the birds and parasite bird to be revealed in the end Kim.
    Each couplet had a sound associated with the bird, from the chant, lullaby and spring paean.
    I have read about those cruel foster child/bird; so sad that it killed the other chicks as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A beautiful poem! The couplets seem me to tell a linear narrative rather than being discontinuous. But perhaps that’s too subjective a response, as others don’t seem to have picked up on it. In any case, what you say is moving and compelling.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really like this contemporary ghazal, Kim. Like Rosemary, I think it tells a story, but each couplet can also stand alone. I don’t think I knew that about cuckoos–we don’t have them here. Our cowbirds do the same thing though.

    Liked by 1 person

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