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pale imitation

February 22, 2012

by Anna Dickie

I last leaf on the cherry tree

the colour of a blackbird’s beak


II blackbird

silent in briar

the river must be frozen yet


III blackbird

out in the darkness

take me back


IV I know when I leave

your dark flight

will beat my bounds


V the whistle of a blackbird

above another urban dawn


VI three blue-green eggs

which to prefer, new life

or the promise of it


VII blackbird and woman

the perfect marriage

of blossom and thorn


VIII our figs are ripe

the blackbird says


IX driving in low light

heart stopped

by a blackbird’s swoop


X dusk in the orchard

where a vigorous shadow

is knifing fruit


XI a blackbird scolds

and she breaks off

her homily, and puts away

her speech


XII a man, a woman, a blackbird

winged bit players

in a pantomime


XIII many black birds,

one blackbird

Note: Anna writes of the European blackbird, Turdus merula, which is in the thrush family, rather than the North American species, which are icterids. For further information on this common British bird please see here.

Download the podcast
Sound of the blackbird by inchadney at Freesound.org (Creative Commons Attribution licence)

Anna Dickie started writing poetry in her late forties and has been published widely. Her first pamphlet Heart Notes was published by Calder Wood Press, and last autumn Imprint, a collaboration with fellow poet Irene Brown, was published by jaggnath press. Her poem “Snow” has just been anthologised in Not Only the Dark, a book in aid of Shelterbox, a charity providing worldwide disaster relief, and she recently took part in BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Workshop with the poet, writer and broadcaster Ruth Padel. She also performs with a poetry group called Poetrio.

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  1. Irene Brown
    February 23, 2012 at 4:38 am

    Beautifully read and very atmospheric, Anna. Well done!

  2. Jenny Mayor
    February 23, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Lovely poem – so musical & evocative & mysterious. Fantastic reading, as well.

  3. Margaret
    February 24, 2012 at 10:43 am

    True to the original but beautiful in its own right. Love the reading, too. Stevens would not sound so lyrical since he was from Reading, Pennsylvania!

  4. Lois
    February 25, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Beautifully rendered and read.

    out in the darkness

    take me back

    Made the hairs on my head stand up… Thank you for this lush gathering.

  5. February 26, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Thank you all for the kind and thoughtful comments, and sorry for my delay in replying, but my pc is in the process of being replaced, and for some reason I can’t post from my ipad. I have a bit of a cheek even attempting this, which I’m sure others will concur with. But I do love the blackbird and the place it has in our hearts.

  6. katherine D
    February 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Love the poem read over the blackbird’s song. Not sure about “pale” imitation…

  7. Rachel
    February 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I had the joy of witnessing the first image with Anna in a Scottish garden last autumn – she pointed it out – leaf/beak/bird. Anna, from that fleeting moment you have made something haunting.

  8. March 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    K & R thanks for you kind comments. R that lovely morning will live with me for a long while. Let’s hope Spring is as inspiring…

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