Flying Back to Cornelius Eady

During class this past week, we were provided with a packet of some of Dr. McCoy’s favorite poems. As a class, we took the time to read the poems aloud and internally reflect on each of them. While all the compiled poems appealed to me, one in specific caught my attention. A certain rawness and vulnerability surrounded Cornelius Eady’s poem, “Crows in a Strong Wind.” The poem offers a duality by evoking both simplicity in its subject, but complexity with its underlying message. I believe this duality and the poem’s connections to class resulted in it being my favorite among the others.  

Eady’s poem begins with the familiar picture of crows sitting on a roof top, being blown off due to a strong wind. The familiarity of this sight automatically connects the reader to the poem, making it personal. Eady writes,   

“Off go the crows from the roof. 

The crows can’t hold on. 

They might as well 

Be perched on an oil slick.”  

The last two lines of this stanza convey the idea that there is no chance of the crows being able to stay on. If “They might as well/Be perched on an oil slick,” then the birds are bound to fly off the roof. This inevitability of flying off the roof, even with a longing to stay on, produces this rawness and vulnerability that I mentioned at the beginning of the post. To strengthen this idea, Eady describes the crows struggle to get back on the roof as an “awkward,” “tipsy,” “humorous,” and “sorrowful,” dance. These words all emphasize the outward and internal struggle that the bird encounters while trying to regain its stability. Additionally, these words convey the vulnerability the birds experience while the world watches the birds attempt to reach the perch, knowing they will soon be blown off again. 

While the entire poem connects to our class, one line, in particular, jumped out at me. In the third stanza Eady writes, “As they try to set things right, /As the wind reduces them.” This line shows that the birds continually attempt to go back to their comfortable position, perched on the roof. This circularity, although never reaching satisfaction, reminded me of Ron Eglash’s book African Fractals, and his discussion of recursion. In the book, Eglash describes recursion as, “a sort of feedback loop, with the end result of one stage brought back as the starting point for the next.” (Eglash, 8) This poem is a recursion. If the birds were to reach their goal of sitting back on the roof, another wind gust would likely come, causing the birds to fly off, and once again, struggle to fly back.    

In a less literal sense, perhaps Eady’s poem conveys the recursion of vulnerability in a person’s life, specifically when dealing with love. By using wind as the force which causes the birds to fly off their perch, perhaps Eady is conveying that vulnerability is caused naturally. The wind in the poem can’t be stopped; therefore, some unstoppable and uncontrollable force is going to continuously cause us to feel vulnerable throughout life. Perhaps that natural force is love. This, however, is only one interpretation of the poems meaning. Eady’s last stanza beautifully ties together the poem. He writes,   

Such a sorrowful dance.  

How embarrassing is love 

When it goes wrong  


In front of everyone.”   

Love inevitably goes wrong and has its ups and downs. Sometimes we as humans are knocked off our perches, whether that be symbolic of fights, break ups, or divorces. Additionally, the emotions involved with love, including embarrassment and vulnerability are heightened when exhibited for everyone to see. Love, the longing of it, the constant battle with it, and its effect on our emotions are natural and cyclical. However, even though we know the pain and embarrassment that comes with love, we continue to desire it. Similarly, even though the crows know the pain and embarrassment that comes with trying to grasp the perch, they continue to reach for it.      

I believe that I will find myself flying back to Eady’s “Crows in a Strong Wind,” as this poem relates to much more than I could unpack in one blog post, and after all, I love it.  

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