Today I went to hear the birds
And I was met by wrens.
I couldn’t see their bodies first,
The leaves were bright,
Their shapes were small,
For birds that once
Sang bare,
And peeped from cracks,
Afeared of sacrifice,
Are clothed once more
In flush of Spring.
But once fast flown and
Then alit, I could find the shape again
(O if I could find the shape again).

They say it has no sense,
A bird’s high song,
But some mundane response
That I project upon.
But I tell them another thing
For this that sings, that shakes,
His beak wide open to the sky
His tongue a-quiver,
This one sings the song of life,
And I hear another,
And another in another tree,
And then I see them all
Without the seeing.

This is the day, the hour,
When all the wrens
By common cause,
Give up their hearts.
I know these notes,
I play them in my greening bower,
I play them on my faery harp,
And every trill, and every rill,
That races down your flanks,
And guides you to the oak,
That’s me a-calling
From my ferny cave.
I am the King, you are the Queen,
These things are just,
The natural law.
See how my feathers shake,
Hear how my music soars.
Can’t she hear? She isn’t far.
She comes, she must,
It is commanded, since
When I was Taliesin’s bird,
And helped the woody druids
Say how crops might fare,
How milk was soured,
And see inside the hearts of men.

For while the shadow of That hyddeous strength,
Sax myle and more It is of length,
My song is fierce,
My call is bright,
The way’s not long
That leads to light.

Taliesin – Bard of the 6th Century, who sang at the courts of three British kings – was transformed into a wren.
‘The shadow of that hyddeous strength, sax myle and more it is of length’: Ane dialog (The Monarch, 1553), Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount.

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