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Sweeping the Sky

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Sweeping the Sky - Reimagining Richard Jefferies (Part 3)

There is sunshine to-day, after rain, and every lark is singing. Across the vale a broad cloud-shadow descends the hillside ... The sunshine follows—the warmer for its momentary absence.

The Hills and the Vale - 1909

distant hills
across the vale
skylark sing

Richard Jefferies wrote passionately about nature and the countryside combining vivid description and imagery - painting in words - his palette the nature of his beloved hills and vales the downs and all the trees birds insects and animals that lived there ....

A follow up post to that of ‘The Hawk in the Wind’ ...

The Hawk in the Wind
written for the blog of the Richard Jefferies Society.Here are some more seasonal1 haiku inspired by the essays of Richard Jefferies ...

Spring

Once more the wave of rain has passed, and yonder the hills appear; these are but uplands. The nearest and highest has a green rampart, visible for a moment against the dark sky, and then again wrapped in a toga of misty cloud. ... Wee-ah-wee! Some chance movement has been noticed by the nearest bird [lapwing],and away they go at once as if with the same wings, sweeping overhead, then to the right, then to the left, and then back again, till at last lost in the coming shower. ...

Haunts of the Lapwing

april showers
sweeping the sky
a lapwing calls

Here is the original haiku by the late Martin Lucas which partly inspired my own ...

a light rain …
sweeping the moor
the peewit’s cry

From Wingbeats, Snapshot Press, 2008. Originally published - Earthjazz, Ram Publications, 2003

I had to deliberately mention the name of the month directly as we often associate lapwing in December, and possibly January and February, in some of the UK.

But I know (knew) it best as a bird of the spring farmlands coming to nest in the autumn sown corn the green tips just showing above the brown soil.

Related Posts:   Birds in Music

Summer

“It is summer, and the wind-birds top the furze ; the bright stonechat, velvet-black and red and white, sits on the highest spray of the gorse, as if he were painted there. He is always in the wind on the hill, from the hail of April to August’s dry glow. All the mile-long slope of the hill under me is purple-clad with heath down to the tree-filled gorge where the green boughs seem to join the purple. The corn-fields and the pastures of the plain — count them one by one till the hedges and squares close together and cannot be separated. The surface of the earth melts away as if the eyes insensibly shut and grew dreamy in gazing, as the soft clouds melt and lose their outline at the horizon

Richard Jefferies - Winds of Heaven

summer winds …
a stonechat calls the
sound of his name

Here we sometimes see them in autumn or early spring on wasteland but take a walk up on the Great Orme in summer and it seems as if every gorse Bush has its own sentinel.

Autumn

Come to the hedgerow here, beside the stubble, early in the morning, and the mist conceals the other side of the field; the great hawthorn bushes loom out from it, and the grass by the ditch is white with heavy dew. By-and-by the mist clears, and the sky gives its own grey tint to all things. All sounds are hushed, and all colours subdued. Yet later on the breeze rises, and as it sweeps past throws a golden largesse of leaves on either hand. The monotonous grey sky resolves itself into separate clouds, which hasten overhead, with gaps where the sun seems nearly to shine through. These places are brightly illuminated from above, and yet the beams do not penetrate. After a while there comes a gleam of sunshine, and the eyes that have been bent on earth instinctively look up- The hedge is still so green with leaves that the wind is warded off and the sunshine is pleasantly warm. The rays have immediately found out and lit up every spot of colour. In the hawthorn the dull red haws, very large this year; on the briar the scarlet hips; a few flowers still lingering on the gambles ...

Nutty Autumn - Richard Jefferies

distant thunder
a flash of fiery tail
among the haws

Redstarts breed locally in the oak woodlands above Llyn Padarn at the bottom of Snowdon but I mostly remember my first sighting as a child in the Hawthorn hedges on my cousins farm at Easterton near Market Lavington on the northern slopes of Salisbury Plain.

Related Posts:   The Magic of Birdsong

Winter

I came on the Colley [Dipper] suddenly the first time, at a bend of the river; he was beneath the bank towards me, and flew out from under my feet, so that I did not see him till he was on the wing. Away he flew with a call like a young bird just tumbled out of its nest, following the curves of the stream.

... Presently I saw him through an alder bush which hid me; he was perched on a root of alder under the opposite bank. Worn away by the stream the dissolved earth had left the roots exposed, the Colley [Dipper] was on one of them; in a moment he stepped on to the shore under the hollow, and was hidden behind the roots under a moss-grown stole. When he came out he saw me, and stopped feeding. He bobbed himself up and down as he perched on the root in the oddest manner, bending his legs so that his body almost touched his perch, and rising again quickly, this repeated in quick succession as if curtsying ...

Wild Life in a Southern County 1879

under the bank
a dipper warbles
his winter song

Dipper are common here on the tumbling waters of the rivers in and around Snowdonia - I have even seen them on a weir at the confluence of sea and river at the mouth of the Ogwen near our local Nature Reserve - the Spinnies. But I know it best from .... a little lowland brook - the Cam - meandering through a pastoral landscape near Bath ...

Related Posts:   January Woods

Credits

Richard Jefferies A Study - H S Salt 1894

The header photograph is titled - The Wiltshire Downs from Liddington Castle 1892 - prepared by Miss Bertha Newcombe

All the quoted passages have been sourced from the blog of the Richard Jefferies Society managed by Dr Rebecca Welshman and may have appeared elsewhere in my blog.

The haiku are mine

Footnotes

  1. Seasonality should ideally align with the traditional consideration that the equinoxes and solstices occur at the midpoints of their respective seasons. (So, for example, early February is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, but mid-late February is spring. So a February haiku might be concerned with winter or spring; a May haiku with either spring or summer; an August haiku with either summer or autumn; and a November haiku with either autumn or winter.)

    Some birds are associated with certain seasons. Of course, we encounter most species in more than one season. So as in the case of my haiku on lapwing I had to deliberately mention the name of the month, as we often associate lapwing in December, and possibly January and February, in some of the UK.

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cathytea
March 8, 2020 4:16 pm

These are lovely!

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[…] then to the left, and then back again, till at last lost in the coming shower. … ~ seasonal1 haiku inspired by the essays of Richard Jefferies  From: Sweeping the […]

Josie Holford
March 17, 2020 10:06 pm

Liddington- my old haunt!
distant hills
across the vale
skylark sing

Cynthia Reyes
March 25, 2020 10:39 am

Interesting and lyrical, Clive. Hope you are staying safe and well.

navasolanature
April 28, 2020 6:50 pm

Love all the succinct haiku. And the vivid descriptions. We used to see redstarts here but haven’t for a few years now.

navasolanature
May 1, 2020 4:38 pm
Reply to  Clive Bennett

That is lovely, such a beautiful place and glad the redstarts find it comfortable!