Beggar’s Song

By Gregory Orr b. 1947 Gregory Orr
Here’s a seed. Food
for a week. Cow skull
in the pasture; back room
where the brain was:
spacious hut for me.

Small then, and smaller.
My desire’s to stay alive
and be no larger
than a sliver
lodged in my own heart.

And if the heart’s a rock
I’ll whack it with this tin
cup and eat the sparks,
always screaming, always
screaming for more.

Gregory Orr, “Beggar’s Song” from The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2002).

Source: The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2002)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Gregory Orr b. 1947

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Social Commentaries, Class

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Gregory  Orr


The author of more than 10 collections of poetry and several volumes of essays, criticism, and memoir, Gregory Orr is a master of the short, personal lyric. His poetry has been widely anthologized and translated into at least 10 languages. Observes critic Hank Lazer, “From Burning the Empty Nests (1973) to the present, Orr gradually developed the ability to fuse his incredible skill at visual precision—the signature of his . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Class

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.