Sunday, January 18, 2009
haze, sounds, cruel
Mist, tree and sun.
Of all the sounds I hear in the garden and in the road passing the house the alarm call of the blackbird - the urgent, repititive single note that it makes as it flees the approach of a human or a cat - is the one I notice the most. It is a sound so different from its fluent song of spring and summer, that you are surprised to find that it has the same source. Blackbirds are common round here; we live side by side; and I am not surprised to find that their priorities are often quite close to my own.
The photograph and lines from a poem - "nothing as beautiful as birds could be so cruel and fearful as they are" - which Lucy Kempton published in Box Elder the other day, stay in my mind. The photograph is hers; the lines are from a poem by another blogger, Christopher, http://northernwall.blogspot.com , a poet and mechanical designer from Gladstone, Oregon. Then, today, when I open at random the notebooks of Albert Camus, a single entry from 1938 catches my eye: L'air est peuplé d'oiseaux cruel et redoutables. It is curious but not surprising that the space in time and geography can be filled by a link between two such powerful images.
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A friend of mine, having just seen Hitchcock's The Birds, pooh-poohed the premise. "All you'd need would be a fencing mask and a tennis racket," he pointed out. But that's to ignore something quite sinister about even quite small birds.
For my sixtieth my family arranged for me to go behind the scenes at the Whipsnade birds of prey section. I love raptors and I was photographed grinning my head off with a Harris hawk sitting on my wrist. But conscious all the time of a different relationship had the bird between just a bit bigger,
You're doing lots of birds yourself at the moment...
Imagine a world without birds. What sadder lines in English poetry than:
"The sedge is wither'd from the lake
And no birds sing".
On the other hand, Should we mammals trust anything that pecks its way through an eggshell into the world?
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