My curses gazed upon the foe
Who perched on wires by the tree:
"Just who is it you seek, Old Crow,
The neighbor boy, or is it me?"
Said the Crow:
"I seek for water and for bread,
And seek for murders in the sky-
But never for a neighbor dead,
Or that a neighbor's neighbor die."
Of the Poem:
Sometimes a crow's a crow, as sometimes a cigar's a cigar.
The poem above came from an experience I had earlier this week. I accompanied two friends for a walk across the street when suddenly there was dark black crow directly before us plucking at a puddle of water. An onslaught of superstitious images filled my head to the point that an eeriness sat on the entire scene (my friends felt it too).
Now I hardly consider myself a superstitious person, but truth be told, I've always perceived the presence or suggestion of Death where these birds would rove. Moreover, and on account of this, I've caught myself shunning them, shooing them, cursing them, staring swords at them ... I think I even tried to throw something at one of them once!
Superstitious? I wouldn't go that far, but I will acknowledge that like most of us I've grown up in a culture riddled with superstitious ideologies, and that these have become so interwoven into our social awareness that it's almost impossible to come out unscathed by it (e.g. my examples above).
Notwithstanding, the above poem is essentially a reminder to myself that this is so, that that bird we saw plodding about the water wasn't the embodiment of Death or Destruction or Bad Omen, but was rather ... well ... a bird.
Now we may attach symbols to these creatures that represent otherworldly aspects, and even mythologize or poeticize about them, but the truth is we ought to be focused on the meaning behind the symbol rather than the subject through whom that meaning seemingly symbolically manifests.
In the second line of the second stanza the phrase "murders in the sky" appears. This sounds exceedingly dark, and was intended to. But the truth is it's not dark at all. The word 'murder' is a collective noun that basically means the same thing as 'flock' (hence the phrase murder of crows). When in line two of stanza two the crow says he seeks "murders in the sky" he's essentially saying he seeks the company of other crows- a social inclination.