Beneath this cloud-spread sky you sing head high
for some lost mate, or for the joy to thrive
through storms, and glide through orchards ripe with apples,
cherries, berries, pears and leaves all dappled
with the shy sun’s rays. Your quiet flight
a modest pageant: speckled breast, polka dotted chest,
feathers brushed buff-red that catch the light,
jacket dusky brown, the clear-cut vest
a lining laid in grey along your wings
as you carve your kingly way to topmost things.
Your song, suspended in the branches, waits
for wind, sent by a distant promise to celebrate,
awake a dormant hope hidden in the brume,
clear the clouds to welcome in the blue.
Your notes, released, then soar towards the sky
fill the air with nature’s pure delight
a song to lift us all from earthly strife
forget our woes for just one transient moment of
The Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos, La Grive musicienne) has long wings enabling it to migrate over very long distances. Their strong, rapid wing beats allow them to soar high and maintain an easy cruising speed. During migration they fly mostly at night. In the morning, those that come to land catapult in at high speed to woody areas to ensure their safety. However, many Song thrushes in Britain and France are ‘sedentary’, i.e. are resident year round and do not migrate. Check out his song here.
And check out Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Song Thrush’: this extract is taken from the French organist’s famous work “little bird sketches”, written in 1985 and dedicated to his wife Yvonne Loriod who gave the first performance in 1987:
starting at 7’04.
Photograph: Song Thrush (Turdus Philomelos), Taco Meeuwsen, Hellevoetsluis, The Netherlands.