Let the Poetry Begin!
It was in Spring that we first heard it and couldn’t believe our luck. From an ordinary tree not two minutes into our regular daily walk from home in the heart of the Vendee, came the compelling sound of a bird in full voice. We stopped without a word, standing in the middle of the quiet lane, craning to catch a glimpse of the bird.
“Is that…”, we both whispered, “Is that a nightingale?”
We knew it had to be. There was a power and a virtuoso athleticism to the song, which marked it out from other birds we were used to hearing on our walks. Finally, as if acknowledging our admiration, the nightingale took a bow, appearing to us quite boldly, for the first time, at the very top of the tree. There could be no doubt of his identity. I say ‘his’ because, later, on looking through our bird guide, I gathered that it is the male who sings to attract his mate. She may take him or leave him, depending on whether his arpeggios, turns and roulades are sufficiently enticing! We listened, as he ran through his simple encore.
We walked on in silence. We could still hear him.
Does not dress-up to kill.
He wears, instead,
A simple fustian suit
Of undistinguished brown,
As, hidden high, he chants
And swoops, beckons, taunts, seduces,
Plagues us with his shimmering song,
Whisks our feet from under us,
And offers us a simple choice,
“Hear my song,
Or pass along!”
The wise ones wait.
I was born in England soon after the war. I moved , with my family to Australia in 1966, where I was a soldier (briefly), a public servant, an opera singer, and an English teacher.