Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A July Day In Nature and Poetry

Fledgling Blackbird

As late as the first week in July there are still baby blackbirds who cannot fly. I found this one on a table on the terrace after a night of high winds.  Every time it hopped away from me it lost more bits of fluffy feathers. In the end it hopped, skipped and stumbled off the table and under a large lilac bush, where it hid, issuing pitiful little gurgles, a sound like a blunt pebble being rolled on a rough, earthy surface.

I stood well away and mother turned up, clucking and fussing.


I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms,
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

Wallace Stevens
From Thirteen Ways to look at a Blackbird

A sparrow's nest ?

This tiny nest came down with the wind,  
It is bowl-shaped, very shallow, and
no more then 4 inches wide.
Whenever I find  birds' nests I am always surprised  how spotless they are.
Birds truly do not 'foul their own nests'.

The married birds with nice selection cull
Soft thistledown, gray moss, and scattered wool,
Line the secluded nest with feathery rings,
Meet with fond bills, and woo with fluttering wings.

Erasmus Darwin
from Reproduction of Life

A Dead Mole

I found this mole by the compost heaps, just lying there, stiff and cold, without any discernible injury.
I hope Moley died of old age, after a riotous night at Toad Hall with Ratty and Badger and Mr. Toad.

Benno and I gave him a decent burial, reading a poem as part of the ceremony:

A Dead Mole

Strong-shouldered mole,
That so much lived below the ground,
Dug, fought and loved, hunted and fed,
For you to raise a mound
Was as for us to make a hole;
 What wonder now that being dead
Your body lies here stout and square
Buried within the blue vault of the air?

Andrew Young

Except, of course, the poet must eventually have done what we did,
buried him in a hole in the ground. Air burials are not at all the thing round here.

How many of these will it have taken to make moleskin waistcoats?

Rural England

An English scene, 
a sky that cannot decide whether it should rain or shine,
a hay meadow, cut,
a field where sheep may safely graze,
and fields of crops, like the barley field in the middle of the picture 
all divided by hedgerows.

Each rural sight, each sound, each smell, combine;
The tinkling sheep-bell, or the breath of kine;
The new-mown hay, that scents the swelling breeze,
Or cottage chimney smoking through the trees.

Gilbert White

Wild Orchid

Common spotted orchid
I found this orchid on the edge of the woods,
between the path and the field, with a small stream running alongside.

the orchid blossoms
and I can't explain why it
moves my heart, why such pleasure
comes from one small bud,
and a long, spindly stem.

Sam Hamill
From The Orchid Flower

When Evening Shadows Fall

The view from my window in summer.

When day declining sheds a milder gleam,
What time the may-fly haunts the pool or stream;
When the still owl skims round the grassy mead,
What time the timorous hare limps forth to feed;
Then be the time to steal adown the vale, 
and listen to the vagrant cuckoo's tale;

Gilbert White
From The Naturalist's Summer Evening Walk.


  1. Ok, finding out that you read a poem to a dead mole at his burial service made me cry - and laugh - at the same time.

  2. Oh my God, Friko, I didn't know you memorialized the mole with your dog! That makes it even funnier. I'm wondering though, if your dog could be the mole murderer. Did he look guilty as you read the poem?

  3. What a delightful collection of pictures and verses - a collage in praise of England, and no mistake.

  4. What a treat, Friko -- a collage of photos and poetry! Thank you for this!

    (I have wondered about the moleskin vests myself.)

  5. A truly delightful post, Friko; I loved it all.

    We had to bury two dead birds last week, a thrush and a sparrow. Both had flown into a window. They are now fertilising the shrub border.

  6. my heart turned over at the dead mole, and again when you said you had buried and poemed it. You and B are definitely the right sort of people to lunch with.

    Aside from that sad note, the rest was lovely. Very thoughtful of you to put in all those poems and quotes to go with wonderful pictures. Don't you dare complain every again about living in the country!

  7. You have a lovely heart, Friko, to bury that mole! We've been watching a mother robin escaping from her nest for a bit of preening. You can almost hear her muttering - darn kids, always making a mess...

  8. What a great and peaceful caleidoscope view of life. Thank you for this much needed escape. A great Thursday for you.

  9. Riches, Friko.


    Aloha from Waikiki :)

    Comfort Spiral

  10. wie schön sind Deine Beschreibungen von der Welt der Natur und der Tiere! Sogar der Tod hat hier seinen ehrenvollen Platz. Auch die dazu passenden Gedichte geben dir den Eindruck dem Ganzen eine Art Vervollkommnung zu geben. Die Landschaftsbilder haben mich sehr erstaunt, denn sie ähneln den unseren hier sehr, nur die Felder sind nicht so weit. Wunderschön! Dir einen sehr glücklichen Tag, liebe Friko!

  11. marciamayo - no it wasn't the dog, definitely not.

    jinksy - well, it is rather pleasant round here in the summer.

    Vicki Lane - they must have needed hundreds and hundreds of moles.

    Chrstine - We have birds flying into the sticking-out conservatory. They learn once they are older, it is always during fledgling time that it happens.

    Deborah - why ever not, even pretty scenery and poetry can become a boring diet without any other stimulation.

    Nancy - Nature is really busy at the moment, every thing and every creature seems to be reproducing madly.

    robert - ich hoffe, es hat dir Spass gemacht.

    Cloudia - indeed, Cloudia.

    Greetings from Shropshire

    Renee - Unsere Felder sind klein und schmal, von Hecken umsaeumt, sehr malerisch. Ich hoffe, es bleibt noch lange so.

  12. That post was too long with too much for me to comment on! Not a criticism, just a breathless response to a blogger who would cast off so much at one go... I'll stick to my first response: I know the Wallace Stevens poem and think it is wonderful. How splendid for you to be a part of one of the thirteen ways.

  13. That pretty little bird is so cute – I’d love to hold it in my hand, but I know it would not be good for him. I also like your picture of rural England – it looks like the landscape of rural France I have been watching on the TV during the Tour de France. I love your poems too – you are so good at finding the right poems to go on your posts.

  14. I love the random lines of poetry you find to illustrate your posts! Also, that English scene made me drool!

  15. Duchess - I am sorry if this post was too long for you; I hope you still enjoyed it.

    Vagabonde - thanks for your trying again and thanks for your kind words.

    Molly - Very pretty, isn't it, in a modest sort of way.

  16. Wonderful combination of poetry and pictures. Couldn't do that for many cities - London perhaps!


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