Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee: Bird Song, People Song

[European Song Thrush singing]

[European Blackbird, i.e., also a thrush, singing]

[American Robin, i.e., also a thrush, singing]

[American Mockingbird, a close cousin to the thrush]

Canary is very happy, thinking of Earth Day just passed and anticipating World Migratory Bird Day nearly upon us (May 8/9)...we in the Northern Hemisphere thank our friends in the Southern Hemisphere for sending us the thrushes, the warblers, the wrens, the chats, the finches, the flycatchers...

Already the Robins and the Mockingbirds are singing, freshets of song that lace the sounds of traffic and construction here in Manhattan...listen carefully and you will hear the first White-throated Sparrows of the season in the underbrush of the parks...

Parched after a long winter, we northerners are like Beren in Tolkien's Silmarillion , spying Luthien for the first time as she danced in the glades of Doriath "at a time of evening under moonrise":

"Keen, heart-piercing was her song as the song of the lark that rises from the gates of night and pours its voice among the dying stars, seeing the sun behind the walls of the world; and the song of Luthien released the bonds of winter, and the frozen waters spoke, and flowers sprang from the cold earth where her feet had passed."

(Beren named her "Tinuviel," which is "Nightingale" in the Gray-elven tongue; Luthien's singing conquered the lord of torment, rescued Beren from death.)

The song that trickles up-- I know it, as Wallace Stevens knew it in "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird":

"I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know."

As Mary Oliver knows it in "Goldfinches":

"Is it necessary to say any more?
Have you heard them singing in the wind, above the final fields?
Have you ever been so happy in your life?"

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