Two lovely fat bronzewings enjoying autumn under the Fuji yesterday…Was also visited by a pipit on the verandah outside my (computer) window – the first I have seen here, though I have been hearing him/them and wondering, ‘What Bird Is That?’ – you remember? There were many on the Hazelwood Flats farm.

‘I cannot tell If truly never anything but fair The days were when he sang, as now they seem’…One of many things I ‘lost’ with increasing deafness was birdsong (and batsong!) currently much improved with my new hearing aid adjustment, but I still can’t pick who it is sings in our garden!

The pipit ‘minds me of this lovely poem:


The Unknown Bird – Edward Thomas

Three lovely notes he whistled, too soft to be heard

If others sang; but others never sang

In the great beech-wood all that May and June.

No one saw him: I alone could hear him

Though many listened. Was it but four years

Ago? or five? He never came again.

Oftenest when I heard him I was alone,

Nor could I ever make another hear.

La-la-la! he called, seeming far-off—

As if a cock crowed past the edge of the world,

As if the bird or I were in a dream.

Yet that he travelled through the trees and sometimes

Neared me, was plain, though somehow distant still

He sounded. All the proof is—I told men

What I had heard.

I never knew a voice,

Man, beast, or bird, better than this. I told

The naturalists; but neither had they heard

Anything like the notes that did so haunt me,

I had them clear by heart and have them still.

Four years, or five, have made no difference. Then

As now that La-la-la! was bodiless sweet:

Sad more than joyful it was, if I must say

That it was one or other, but if sad

‘Twas sad only with joy too, too far off

For me to taste it. But I cannot tell

If truly never anything but fair

The days were when he sang, as now they seem.

This surely I know, that I who listened then,

Happy sometimes, sometimes suffering

A heavy body and a heavy heart,

Now straightway, if I think of it, become

Light as that bird wandering beyond my shore.


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