Dawn Chorus



The first of day, the last of night,

The woodcock and the lapwings meet

Beneath the blood-horn moon of spring:

A fold of wings in praise of bats.


The oystercatchers warn and reach

Inside the panicked twitch of deer.

They join the curlew’s howl of lust,

The curlew’s voice of bidden loss.


And soon the forest joins the moor

With wrens subsumed in bursts of wing,

Exhilaration on a feather’s barb,

The light which greets the point of flight.


An hour in life and all is raised:

The night time’s deaths, the morning’s birth.



Avoiding death we sidestep life.

We miss the warbler’s beacon song,

The melodies of clouds on fire,

And trees which birth the passing days.


We cling to nights and hide in hopes,

Constructing tales of other worlds

Where fixities will fold our fears.

And shut away the shifting light,


And live these distant, searching lives.

The premonition sun will rise

Unseen. Unheard, the birds become

That larger world which we hide from.


Within us all is life and death,

A universe, a blackbird’s breath.



The song is all, the forest one,

The neurones, pollen, twilight rings.

The trees connect, the eyes forget,

Ten thousand evanescent springs.


A chord beyond the reach of one,

Becomes the mantra of the one,

A unity to shed the night,

An ecstasy to greet the light.


A force as pure as air vibrates,

From blood, to throat, to bursting tongues,

Each song annihilates itself.

The forest sings, the birds succumb,


And I have ceased to cling to me:

The light is all there’ll ever be.



And all this means the world to me,

But where are words to give it voice?

A ringing in the ears I shake,

The feet on leaves in dawning light.


The river glows with moons within,

The trout forget the bridge of day.

I walk and hear the passing dead:

The crumbling bank and martin’s nests.


A tree has lost its way this night.

Its branches bowed by sorrow’s time,

They point to earth, they brush the dust,

A chaffinch spills its mystery there.


I watch a redstart lose its mind:

Our eyes have met the pains of night.



For Steffen and Jo

24 Comments to “Dawn Chorus”

  1. Yes, within all there is life and death..something we definitely canNOT avoid. Your first stanza calls out to me. In fact it could stand on its own, I think. It is a reminder to savor everything in our midst, not just to spend our time avoiding death! Great poem.

  2. I liked the way you have ended your poem, ” life and death is within us”. Soul is constant and it changes one body to another in this cycle of life and birth.

  3. Blackbird’s song made it into my consciousness today, too…

  4. nice – here the chorus was a woodpecker hammering

  5. A call for sober reflection – life is to be lived. Thank you for your words.

  6. I love the ending lines! So much truth in this poem, beautifully done, you grabbed me with the opening lines

  7. This brought misty tears of human existential acknowledgement – a grand tome in an elegant verse ringing like a clear bell with authenticity – you’ve captured the shimmering interplay between life and death – no small feat – A standing ovation for this one – hope I don’t disturb the quiet audience with applause 🙂

  8. Oh please don’t miss the warbler’s song!! This poem is a lovely admonition to stop for a moment to inhale the world and the ‘black birds breath’ – which is our own breath if we but pay attention.Even the Breeze

  9. This is quite beautiful – a wonderful Dawn Chorus.

    Life is to be lived and loved to the full – sing it out.

    Anna :o]

  10. I think it takes a creative genius to imagine other worlds, but there is true genius in appreciating every breath of ours.

  11. What a brilliant write. Your closing lines are stellar!!!!!! Love it! Especially “a universe, a blackbird’s breath.” Wow.

  12. Very nicely written…leaves me pondering. Love your choice of words.

  13. Profound and unarguable. Love that last line!

  14. I loved the overall poem and the message. Had a little trouble with the reading. – I got hung up trying to understand “trees birth passing days”, – didn’t know the meaning of the word fixties and looking it up didn’t help in the context of the poem (numbers between 50 and 69) – found myself wanting the last line of the 3rd stanza to read “That larger world from which we hide.” That’s it, Otherwise I really liked it!

    • Hi! Glad you liked the poem, and thank you for the comment. Hope I can help with the meanings… “trees birth passing days”: I had an idea of trees with new buds growing greener each day, slowly swelling with energy and new life, bringing spring into being a day at a time. However (in keeping with the theme) these days are also passing (one less day…). “fixities”: those things which are fixed in time or space. Again, following the first line, in life there is a tendency to try to surround ourselves with “permanent fixtures”, props if you like, which -whilst they give us the sense of permanence – are in fact just as imbued with passing as us. “That larger world…”: I like your line. Might change mine, but heck, what would we do with copyright! Hope that helps… And thanks again, much appreciated.

  15. We will miss so much if we sidestep life! Your words are a good reminder to stay involved each day!

  16. How true… We all lead our lives fearing death.. Though we know thats inevitable

  17. really a moving piece…the last section in particular to me and the awareness of nature and all it is doing as we all jive to similar music….

  18. Thank you so much, Gav. Reliving the moment (through your mind), feeling very touched by your words.

  19. I like the back and forth between 1st and 3rd person.

  20. I agree with Laurie and I love this line “Ten thousand evanescent springs.”

  21. I like how your concentration on living entities makes it all the more poignant that they too shall be gone.

  22. I reread this one and I am struck as ever by the wisdom so often we spend our lives locked in fear, avoiding death as you say and missing out completely on life. I am guilty of this having social anxiety I miss out on a good deal. The new prompt is up if you are interested =)

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