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The Kestrel’s Cry


The Kestrel’s Cry - Richard Jefferies Reimagined #9

A new setting for an old favourite haiku 1 of mine about the Kestrel, inspired by a passage from the writings of Richard Jefferies ...

a light breeze
sweeping the hill
a kestrel’s cry

[…] “Presently a small swift shadow passes across—it is that of a hawk flying low over the hill. He skirts it for some distance, and then shoots out into the air, comes back half-way, and hangs over the fallow below, where there is a small rick. His wings vibrate, striking the air downwards, and only slightly backwards, the tail depressed counteracting the inclination to glide forwards for awhile. In a few moments he slips, as it were, from his balance, but brings, himself up again in a few yards, turning a curve so as to still hover above the rick.” […]

Wild Life in a Southern County (1879)

Written while rambling over the South Downs in Sussex, Richard Jefferies would have been reminded of the walks he took over the chalk downs of his native Wiltshire. Would he have known the white horses in the Vale of the White Horse and surrounding areas. Uffington almost certainly. The white horse at Westbury I doubt. But it was the white horse of my childhood ... I grew up with it and must have first sat on its back around 1956. It’s the largest and most imposing. By standing on tiptoe, I could just see it, from my parents bedroom window. You can read more about their history here ...

Artist Biography

The header image is from a watercolour of the Westbury White Horse (1939) by Eric Ravilious.

Eric William Ravilious (22 July 1903 – 2 September 1942) was a British painter, designer, book illustrator and wood-engraver. He grew up in East Sussex, and is particularly known for his watercolours of the South Downs and other English landscapes, which examine English landscape and vernacular art with an off-kilter, modernist sensibility and clarity. He served as a war artist, and died when the aircraft he was in was lost off Iceland.


The recording by Jarek Matusiak is used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 license. This and many more can be found at - Xeno-Canto a website dedicated to sharing bird sounds from all over the world.


  1. I do have a new one too ...
    watching kestrel  hovering  undecided 
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Helen White
May 17, 2021 2:43 pm

Not a white horse I’m familiar with though we are very familiar with the Uffington white horse in the same county, very often visited…I must check it out next time we holiday in the Somerset/Wiltshire borders, whch we like to do. I love to watch he kestrels hover.

Andrea Stephenson
May 17, 2021 8:00 pm

I haven’t visited the white horses though there is one on the side of a North Yorkshire hill that I’ve seen a few times. Very occasionally I see a kestrel hovering.

May 17, 2021 10:15 pm

Very interesting story about the Westbury White Horse. I love the study of history and this just adds to my curiosity. And song of the kestrel is enchanting.

May 18, 2021 2:52 pm

Marvelous, Clive! Lovely verses and a brilliant quote from Jefferies! And love the work of Ravilious. Great post!

Reply to  Clive Bennett
May 19, 2021 7:48 am


May 18, 2021 10:10 pm

Wonder what a kestrel makes of white horses on hillsides? Interesting links. I didn’t realise there were so many but nothing beats the Cerne Abbas man!

Reply to  Clive Bennett
May 30, 2021 11:01 pm

Sorry missed this. Yes some amazing histories.

May 19, 2021 5:23 am

I like your new kestrel haiku, which I will transform and transplant! Enjoy every bit of your posts.

May 20, 2021 11:19 pm

[…] This hovering hokku was composed by Clive Bennett. […]

Donna Fleischer
June 7, 2021 4:44 pm

Hello, Clive Bennett,

Jefferies’s haiku gives me pleasure in many ways. I also enjoyed hearing the common kestrel cry so thanks for this recording.

all the best,
Donna Fleischer

June 7, 2021 4:46 pm

[…] Source: Art in Nature • The Kestrel’s Cry • Kestrel • Art […]