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The Dipper

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It was winter, near freezing,
I'd walked through a forest of firs
when I saw issue out of the waterfall
a solitary bird.

It lit on a damp rock,
and, as water swept stupidly on,
wrung from its own throat
supple, undammable song.

It isn't mine to give.
I can't coax this bird to my hand
that knows the depth of the river
yet sings of it on land.

Source: Poetry

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2004 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Dipper

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  • Born in the west of Scotland, Kathleen Jamie studied philosophy at Edinburgh University. At 19 she won the prestigious Eric Gregory Award, which enabled her to explore the Himalayas, and at 20 she published her first poetry collection, Black Spiders (1982).

    Jamie resists being identified solely as a Scottish poet, a woman writer, or a nature poet. Instead, she aims for her poetry to “provide a sort of connective tissue,” as she notes in a 2005 interview. As writer Tess Taylor observed in the Boston Review, in Jamie’s poetry “the simile is a form of repair.” Influenced by Seamus Heaney, Elizabeth Bishop, John Clare, and Annie Dillard, Jamie writes musical poems that attend to the intersection of landscape, history, gender, and language. Jamie often engages Scots speech in her poetry, enjoying the “feel of it and the texture of it in the mouth,” as she explains in an interview with...

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