The now orange leaves of
the Japanese Acer
skitter in our English
cottage garden – a new
Sunday morning’s quiet
autumn dawn – and a light
turn of an Upstream page
like salmon’s sunlit flight
is early wandering
through riverside landscape
with Mary Oliver
while each alone – and in
their own parts – sings new and
silent sabbath-songs deep
in observing hearts
(* Upstream, is a new Penguin Press collection of Selected Essays by Mary Oliver)
The Calming Thought Of All
That coursing on, whate’er men’s speculations,
Amid the changing schools, theologies, philosophies,
Amid the bawling presentations new and old,
The round earth’s silent vital laws, facts, modes continue.
Sands at Seventy, 1888
Let the poet’s perspective be my anchor and guide.
Indoors, I heard them before I saw them, and whatever it was they were up to sounded very much like major celebration. So I raced outside and the blue sky seemed full of gleaming sunlit underbellies. And had there been solo honking earlier it had ceded now to full chorus. No photographic exhibition will host the images I made hastily with only my iPad to hand. But I shall keep the grainy reminder that allowed me, after the event, to count a flight of 110 wild geese above our house, as I swallowed the lump in my throat, celebrating the harmony and hymnody of their communion.
There’s a simple slate memorial slab on the wall of the old church in Martindale near here. Remembering a former priest of the parish, it bears an exquisite inscription from the Song of Songs, 2.12
The time of the singing of birds is come
Cloud-capped Blencathra, bathed in sunshine as we cycled by, made for an atmospheric ride, despite collisions with the millions of midges also thriving (those that weren’t snapped up by birds on the wing not busy singing) – in the humid warmth of a lakeland autumn afternoon.
Eycott Hill holds a profound silence and space that I’m always awed by. Very few things indeed are better antidote to this world’s contemporary anxieties than deep silence beneath the rich blue dome of the sky. Here, as in the ultimate cycling onwards into the peace of all eternity, the time of the singing of birds is, indeed, come – and these quieter songs effectively drown out the raucous cacophany of some of the very much louder ones!