There is something very iconic about the lark, and hearing its extravagant song in open grasslands is one of summer’s great pleasures. No wonder the bird has inspired such great music and poetry. This is Bill Caddick’s lullaby, Waiting for the Lark
Sleep on child it is not quite day, for the moon has still to set.
Oh the lark she will cry and bring down the morning to where you lie,
But the lark has not risen yet.
Sleep on child while the birds rest on, the cow she sleeps in her stall.
Oh the meadow stands grey in this dew-down moment before the day,
And waits for the lark to call.
Sleep on child while the fields are still, they wait for your father’s hand.
But he will not go, and the sun will not shine, and the cock will not crow,
Till the lark cries over the land.
Sleep on child and heed no sound, for your father may rise in the dark,
With his boots in his hand go drowsily down by the doorway to stand,
Waiting for the lark.
Home Thoughts from Abroad
Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England – now!!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge –
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
– Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!
Robert Browning. Just so, what more is there to be said?
We have a bird box in the garden which has proved pretty useless at attracting birds, except for one – a great spotted woodpecker which came last Spring and used the box to drum out its combined territory and mating call; we have seen and heard it again, and welcomed it as a sure sign of sap rising and growth returning. This is Ted Hughes, from his 1981 collection, Under the North Star.
Woodpecker is rubber-necked
But has a nose of steel.
He bangs his head against the wall
And cannot even feel.
When Woodpecker’s jack-hammer head
Starts up its dreadful din
Knocking the dead bough double dead
How do his eyes stay in?
Pity the poor dead oak that cries
In terrors and in pains.
But pity more Woodpecker’s eyes
And bouncing rubber brains.