Poem introduction

When many years ago I went to stay for a day or two with Thomas Hardy he very kindly met me at the station and he explained with a smile that there were no taxis or anything to ride in because all the people had hired them to take them to a performance of his play in Dorchester, 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles'. So we walked and during our walk I heard a very odd, rather far-away mingling of birdsong which I couldn't think to place and I said, "Do you hear the birds?" and this poem is about that.

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