Archives for posts with tag: hummingbirds

“The hummingbird stands for love” remains one of my favourite poems. In this Vermeer-style scene, I see a young woman at the window of a Dutch interior. She is bathed in light. In my version, she holds open a book or a letter, but gazes at the window. The opulent curtains and tasteful furnishings draw my eye. The fall of the light amuses, but as I look at the scene for a longer period of time, I notice a tiny shimmer of green. This is the hummingbird. Sometimes it is inside the room, sometimes it is outside, visible only as a streak outside one of the window panes.

“Hummingbird” is one of the twenty-five poems in my book Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys. You can read more about the title and its conception here.


In old Dutch paintings

a green-winged hummingbird

might stand for love

when it’s on the inside of a pane of glass.

Hovering outside, it signifies the woman within

has been betrayed.

How would you know this

were it not for the scholars and books?

You would have to be Dutch from 1656.

In my notebook, this poem is preceded and followed by a few lines.

Preceding is a criticism, “There you go doing that thing again, where you write something obscure that no-one else can understand. What’s in your mind?”

After the last lines of the poem, are these comments, mine:

You expect  some easy icons

Tins to pick from Tesco shelves

Or marked down shoes from TKMaxx

My poetry’s just not like that.