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Portrait of the Artist as a Lone Tree


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The blackbird's secret song

Click to hear (.mp3)

In the afternoon where the tree leans over
the ancient wall and the eternal stream,
I stand beneath the branch that bears the blackbird,
three feet below his form, in a dream.

How he preens himself with pride;
what a voice has he been given!
Does he sing because he can?
Does he sing because he's driven?

Mother sees, and knowing more,
comes to show me who is hiding
in a quiet tree nearby,
on the nest where they're residing.

Though she lacks his splendid beak,
and appears quite plain and dowdy,
she looks on with longing eye
at her spouse, who's bold and rowdy.

Does he sing because he can?
Or is it in his nest's defence?
Now I know the blackbird's song -
her pride in his magnificence.

In Britain, the male blackbird has a bright yellow bill which he does not share with his mate, or his American cousins. He is one of the foremost song birds in these islands - and he knows it. You can hear him on this web page (and elsewhere): Singing blackbird.

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