Modern Poetry: Studies in Practical Criticism

By C. B. Cox; A. E. Dyson | Go to book overview

16
A BLACKBIRD SINGING

by R. S. Thomas

IT seems wrong that out of this bird,
Black, bold, a suggestion of dark
Places about it, there yet should come
Such rich music, as though the notes'
Ore were changed to a rare metal
At one touch of that bright bill.

You have heard it often, alone at your desk
In a green April, your mind drawn
Away from its work by sweet disturbance
Of the mild evening outside your room.

A slow singer, but loading each phrase
With history's overtones, love, joy
And grief learned by his dark tribe
In other orchards and passed on
Instinctively as they are now,
But fresh always with new tears.

'It seems wrong . . .'. The poem opens with a discordant, almost a grudging note. What has beauty to do with darkness, or 'rich music' with an appearance so black and bold? The poet's mood is tranquil and peaceful, amid the 'sweet disturbance/Of the mild evening'. His first feeling on hearing the song is that good and evil should be more sorted out, more segregated, than they

-133-

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Modern Poetry: Studies in Practical Criticism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Acknowledgements 7
  • Introduction 9
  • 1 - After a Journey 33
  • 2 - The Listeners 41
  • 3 - The Sign-Post 48
  • 4 - Futility 52
  • 5 - Easter 1916 57
  • 6 - Bavarian Gentians 66
  • 7 - Marina 72
  • 8 - The Landscape Near an Aerodrome 80
  • 9 - Snow 85
  • 10 - Spain 1937 90
  • 11 - O Dreams, O Destinations 98
  • 12 - Poem for Elsa 109
  • 13 - Vanity 116
  • 14 - Fern Hill 122
  • 15 - The Horses 128
  • 16 - A Blackbird Singing 133
  • 17 - At Grass 137
  • 18 - The Casualty 142
  • 19 - Considering the Snail 147
  • 20 - On the Death Of a Murderer 153
  • Short Biographies 161
  • Suggestions For Further Reading 165
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