Damped light. The daily lane.
Four times above it
The dubious bird,
And no binoculars on me.
A blackbird silhouette
But the tones leafless, bare
As where it perches, the high willow bough,
Not the accented phrase
That's small-talk still.
No stress, arpeggio, trill,
More monologue than call -
To whom, to whom whom whom, whom whom...
And that continuous.
With quarter-tones in it?
If so, not for these damned iambics,
Not for noise-cluttered ears
Another 'elegy' for Edward Thomas's England,
His bird, the missel-thrush
Suburbanized even then, but commonly met,
Vernacular of the footpath, pavement, road.
Revenant now at best
In half-light, half-remembrance, half-recognition
Here, where by order once again
The skeletal hedgerows have been slashed
So that container trucks grown cottage-sized,
Tanker, delivery van
Suffer no damage, no delay
To their prefabricated bulk
Ever more smoothly coming, going, gone.
And in between, on the same willow bough,
This hint of a return the rumbling drowns.
from A Diary of Non-Events (Anvil Press Poetry, 2002), copyright © Michael Hamburger 2002, used by permission of the author and the publisher