BRIAN CARTER: The trinity of cloud, hill and water
I WAS strolling through the countryside between Torquay and the Teign estuary. It was a morning of sunlight and showers.
A blackbird celebrated it with song; and I stopped to open my book of Irish verse. The poem from the Dark Ages was waiting to sum things up:
"Ah, blackbird, it's well for you
Whatever bush holds your nest;
Little hermit who clinks no bell,
Your clear sweet song brings rest."
The bird sang among the small green hawthorn leaves in the hedge. And his song was as beautiful as any sound I've heard.
The melodious phrases, with subtle changes of tone and variations in length, were remarkable. And the bird obviously getting pleasure out of his performance.
Embroidering and decorating the flow of notes with the spirit of the season soon to come, his song had a wonderful fluency.
Meanwhile, the odd shower fell, but the blackbird's music continued to welcome the morning, and other songbirds were responding all over the place.
Where the hills and combes caught the sun, fields were radiant green between flanks of dark woodland.
Farm animals were at peace with themselves. A couple of ravens swept low across the estuary.
Flicking through the pages of the Irish poetry I read the Blackbird of Derrycairn.
The Poetry of Earth, though, soars above words. I hear it in the silence of celandines and every new leaf.
It's there in the birdsong or the vision of sky and countryside under the magic of dawn or dusk.
The ancient Celt who wrote the next verse would have appreciated the trinity of cloud, hill and water that I was enjoying.
Slotting the book back into my cagoule pocket I followed the lane through the woods to the village.
Then, in the tall, wild hedge separating church from pub, I heard another blackbird in full song.
It was a greeting and benediction. And I reacted in a way which would have brought sunshine into my Irish gran's smile.
I did a lively jig, as happy to be alive as the bird providing that marvellous prelude to spring.