The mourning dove wearing noon’s aureole coos from the rhododendron, (Excerpt from “What the Dove Sings” by Carol Frost)
The mourning dove is a year-long resident in the northeastern part of the United States. These medium-sized birds are perfectly camouflaged to blend in with their habitat. Their light brown color mixes well with the woody plants found in the transitional areas between the residential spaces and the woods. However, with all the snow on the ground, they seem quite noticeable.
The mourning dove is a member of the Columbidae family of birds. Other birds in this family include the white-winged dove and the pigeon. Besides being called a mourning dove, this bird is also known as the American mourning dove, the rain dove, the turtle dove, and sometimes the Carolina pigeon and Carolina turtledove.(1)
Mourning doves are doing quite well as a species in the United States. Their numbers have been increasing and it is estimated that there are close to 350 million mourning doves residing in the States. (2)
Poems About Mourning Doves
Mourning doves are known to be monogamous birds and are often seen in pairs or small flocks. This “friendly” behavior seems to have been the inspiration for this first poem by Joe Tessitore
“Two Mourning Doves” by Joe Tessitore
Friendship on the promenade? I know to some it may sound odd but there above, two mourning doves in the weeping willow tree! They share their grief and find relief in the bonds that set them free. For tho’ he cries each time she flies the tears of love that burn, while they’re apart, deep in his heart he knows she will return
Tessitore’s poem seems to be a classic love story with a happy ending. The male dove knows the female will return!
Tessitore also mentions the soulful call of the mourning dove. “For tho’ he cries each time she flies”, he says. This verse is a referring to dove song that is often described as a “coo-oo” or “coo-ah, coo, coo, coo”. This song, which is only made by the male mourning dove, comes across as melancholic to the human ear.
Galway Kinnel also reflects on the mourning dove’s call in his poem “Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock”
There is something joyous in the elegies Of birds. They seem Caught up in a formal delight, Though the mourning dove whistles of despair. (Excerpt from” Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock” by Galway Kinnell)
Carol Frost wrote another poem that also spoke of the mourning dove’s song.
“What the Dove Sings” by Carol Frost.
The mourning dove wearing noon’s aureole coos from the rhododendron, oo-waoh, shadow o- ver what to do. Oh. And the sad rhetoric spreads through suburb and wood.
In these opening lines, Frost sets the stage for this dove to engage in some other-worldly activities. She concludes her poem by stating:
From no small rip in fate the you you never shall be more will be extracted. Dove knows the rubric and starts in, who, who is next and soon?
Suspecting that the mourning dove has a connection to something beyond our perception is nothing new. Some cultures believe that when you are visited by a mourning dove, you are being visited by the spirits of those that have passed.(6) This idea can often bring hope and solace to someone who is struggling with loss.
When thinking about the dove as a symbol of hope, I can’t help but think about Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers”. Although this poem is not directly about the mourning dove, I believe that she could easily be talking about this wonderful little bird.
“Hope is the thing with feathers” (#254) by Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. I've heard it in the chillest land, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me.
Do you have a favorite poem about mourning doves? Please share in the comments below.
- Wikipedia: Mourning Dove
- AllAboutBirds: Mourning Dove
- Joe Tessitore;“Two Mourning Doves”: Classic Poets.org
- Galway Kinnell; “Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock” Poetry Foundation
- Carol Frost; “What the Dove Sings”: Poetry Foundation
- Sally Painter; Mourning Dove: Symbolism Exploring Its Peace and Power
- Emily Dickinson; “Hope is the thing with feathers” (254): Poets.org
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