Dec 31 2009

Beyond Bounds: Snowy Egret, No Regrets

Published by at 7:10 am under Beyond Bounds,Water and Shore

Snowy Egret (photo by Kim Steininger)

Though snowy egrets rarely visit southwestern Pennsylvania, they’re one of my favorite birds.  They are very photogenic and so self-absorbed that they usually don’t notice when people are nearby.  I get to see them up close in Florida.  Kim Steininger photographed this one at Bombay Hook, Delaware.

When I see a snowy egret I think of his other, mispronounced name - No Regrets - which I learned from Larry Leavis’ poem, “Slow Child with a Book of Birds.”  The poem is set in winter.  Here’s the excerpt:.

“Yesterday, the slow child on the bus, talkative
 Amidst the fully evolved quiet of those
 Around us muffled in their parkas, was showing me
 A Snowy Egret in the book he carried,
 “No Regrets,” he said, pointing to its eyes,
 To a brassy, unassailable candor in them.
 “No Regrets,” he said again, for the pleasure
 Of it, & smiled, absorbed in it,”

  — from “Slow Child with a Book of Birds” by Larry Levis, The Widening Spell of the Leaves, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991.  Used by permission of the publisher.

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Yes, this bird has that look on his face.  No regrets, indeed!  

(photo by Kim Steininger)

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