Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Lapwings are true pied beauty. Wonderful though it is to see the first hirundines, which are often sand martins over water, the first lapwings have a deeper magic. Their departure too has a haunting quality, beginning as it does that Lenten period when the last of deep winter is over, but the first of real spring has not begun.
Some years ago, a former neighbour died in somewhat shocking circumstances in midwinter. The lapwings seemed to offer some strange comfort, speaking of a kind of transmigration of soul that I couldn't quite explain. Rather later, an old friend sent me a postcard with an Edward Thomas poem, "Two Pewits", which echoed this feeling I had about them.

Two Pewits
Under the after-sunset sky
Two pewits sport and cry
More white than is the moon on high
Riding the dark surge silently;
More black than earth. Their cry
Is the one sound under the sky.
They alone move, now low, now high
And merrily they cry
To the mischievous spring sky
Plunging earthward, tossing high,
Over the ghost who wonders why
So merrily they cry and fly
Nor choose twixt earth and sky,
While the moon's quarter silently
Rides, and earth rests as silently.

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