A snippet from my volunteer work on the ‘Dedicated Naturalist’ Project, helping to decipher and digitise, record and publicise the life’s work of naturalist extraordinaire, Dr Mary Gillham.
Written in her fifth form year at Ealing Grammar School for Girls, Mary’s poignant poem about a mistle thrush was subsequently published in the school’s annual yearbook.
The thunder roared from the clouds on high;
The lightning flashed across the darkened sky;
The woods were lone and drear and drenched with rain,
And not a soul passed by along the lane.
The raindrops glistened on the leaves like gems,
The flowers drooped low upon their slender stems,
And all the birds save one had gone to rest
While this one lingered on beside his nest.
It was a missel-thrush that perched aloft,
With speckled breast, bright eyes, and plumage soft;
His song rose through the branches clear and sweet,
Above the noise of wind and rain and sleet.
The hen bird on the nest beside her mate
Had heard him singing frequently of late,
But still she listened with attentive air
While he sang gaily on without a care.
His song defied the tumult of the storm:
The eggs within the nest were safe and warm,
And that was what he cared for most of all,
And so his praise came forth in joyous call.
Despite the elements that tried to quell
The joyous sounds that from his being swell,
The bird sang on through wind and sleet and rain
Until the storm at last began to wane.