For January 2nd in my Anthology from Canterbury Press, Waiting on the Word, I have chosen to read The Bird in the Tree by Ruth Pitter. On New Year’s Eve we considered Hardy’s almost reluctant glimpse of transfiguration ‘when Frost was spectre-grey, and ‘shrunken hard and dry’, and Hardy’s heart, bleak as the world through which he moves, nevertheless hears for a moment the ‘ecstatic sound’ of his darkling thrush. And even though he wanted to end his poem with the word ‘unaware’, something of the transcended has ‘trembled through’ his poem. Today’s poem, also about hearing a bird in a tree, also addresses the question of how the transcendent might for ‘a moment of time’ ‘tremble through’ into the immanent.
You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. the image above was created by Lancia Smith, and carries a quotation from the poem. You can see this and more on her excellent Website Cultivating the True the Good and the Beautiful.. You can find the words, and a short reflective essay on this poem in Waiting on the Word, which is now also available on Kindle
The Bird in the Tree Ruth Pitter
The tree, and its haunting bird,
Are the loves of my heart;
But where is the word, the word,
Oh where is the art,
To say, or even to see,
For a moment of time,
What the Tree and the Bird must be
In the true sublime?
They shine, listening to the soul,
And the soul replies;
But the inner love is not whole,
and the moment dies.
Oh give me before I die
The grace to see
With eternal, ultimate eye,
The Bird and the Tree.
The song in the living Green,
The Tree and the Bird –
Oh have they ever been seen,
Ever been heard?