Monday, 11 August 2014

Swifts

I thought they had all gone - departed early and abruptly, the unwontedly fine English summer having given them all they required. The last excited flypasts I saw were in the final days of July, and since then I have only spotted a few stragglers, the last of them  - or so I thought - last Wednesday. But yesterday evening, at the end of a day of alternating sunshine and stormy downpours, I happened to glance out of the front-room window - and there was that familiar sickle shape. I dashed out of the front door and, yes, there it was - in the now clear blue sky, a solitary swift, circling quite low and leisurely, as if returning to take a last look round old haunts. I followed its flight over the back garden, then back to the road, before eventually it sailed off elsewhere, perhaps to begin the great journey South.
 Edward Thomas seemed always to know when he had seen his last swift:

How at once should I know,
When stretched in the harvest blue
I saw the swift's black bow,
That I would not have that view
Another day
Until next May
Again it is due?

The same year after year -
But with the swift alone.
With other things I but fear
That they will be over and done
Suddenly
And I only see
Them to know them gone.


I'm not sure yesterday's swift was my last of the year, but if it was, it was a perfect, heart-lifting end to the swift summer.

2 comments:

  1. I saw two more the next day - but none since. Is anyone else still seeing swifts, or have they really gone?

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