Carol of the Birds – Gillian Clarke

by awindram

From the bedroom window I saw a cardinal in a bush; momentarily it fashioned a Christmas card image. Here the cardinal challenges the robin as the iconic Christmas bird. I hurried to try and take a shot of the bird as its presence seemed appropriately festive.


Winter sun is cold and low,
mew the kite and crake the crow,
bird of flame, bird of shadow,
ballad of blood on snow.

Owls are calling llw, llw, llw,

Kyrie, hullabaloo.

Small birds come without a sound,
starving to the feeding ground,
till the robin with his wound
carols the ice-bound land.

Noctua, hibou, gwdihw,

Owl’s lullaby – who? who? who?

The story tells of pain and blood,
the troubles of a restless world,
a star that lights the snowy fields,
towards a newborn child.

Owls are calling llw, llw, llw,

Kyrie, hullabaloo,
noctua, hibou, gwdihw,

lullaby – who? who? who?

Gillian Clarke’s Carol of the Birds