The Stare’s Nest By My Window

A stare is a common starling.

The Stare’s Nest by my Window
(William Butler Yeats)

The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

We are closed in, and the key is turned
On our uncertainty; somewhere
A man is killed, or a house burned.
Yet no clear fact to be discerned:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

A barricade of stone or of wood;
Some fourteen days of civil war:
Last night they trundled down the road
That dead young soldier in his blood:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare,
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love; O honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

(From Meditations in Time of Civil War, 1928.)

This semester, as we study the riches of music and culture (both our own and others’), we will take up the poet’s invitation to “come build in the empty house of the stare.” Understanding music can help us create a more compassionate world.

Quilts from Gee’s Bend, Alabama.

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