The thrush’s last good-night

We get a lot of birds in our garden; we live near the countryside, and we live near the sea, so we get a real selection of town birds, country birds and sea-birds. Sitting by my window here I can see a couple of jackdaws perched on the chimney of Mr and Mrs Ahmed’s house, I can see a seagull wheeling around, probably a common gull, some starlings have shot past, I can hear some sparrows chattering in the privet hedge of Tom’s front garden, some smaller birds, probably tits, a blackbird shouting… and that’s just at the moment. We also have plenty of crows, occasionally rooks, robins, finches… oh any number of different birds… but I have never seen a thrush in our garden.

I remember thrushes from my Cambridgeshire childhood and how beautifully they sang… For some reason they don’t seem to like this little part of the west country. I have no pictures of speckled thrushes which is why I’ve shared a cheeky robin as my featured image..

Edward Dowden wrote this poem about a thrush. Dowden was born in 1843 in Cork, and as I had my Irish class today an Irish poet seems a good choice for today’s sonnet. He was a critic and a poet, and he died in 1913.

The Singer

“That was the thrush’s last good-night,” I thought,
And heard the soft descent of summer rain
In the drooped garden leaves; but hush! again
The perfect iterence,–freer than unsought
Odours of violets dim in woodland ways,
Deeper than coiled waters laid a-dream
Below mossed ledges of a shadowy stream,
And faultless as blown roses in June days.
Full-throated singer! art thou thus anew
Voiceful to hear how round thyself alone
The enriched silence drops for thy delight
More soft than snow, more sweet than honey-dew?
Now cease: the last faint western streak is gone,
Stir not the blissful quiet of the night

Edward Dowden


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