Of course, we don’t know what swallows speak of as they prepare for long, gruelling flights to weather havens, but I liked this poetic description of these darting birds on the eve of migration, a hymn to joyous resilience.

‘They talked of white-and-grey seas, of winds that fling away the stroke of wings, of great thunder-shocks in the sun-whitened clouds under, of wild rains and hunger and fatigue to come before they saw again the sparkles in the foam of the African strand.¬† But none talked of the friends who would fall into the sea, or be slain in France and Spain and Italy, or break their necks against the glass of lighthouses, for the forktailed birds of summer had no thought of these things or of death.¬†They were joyous and pure in spirit, and alien to the ways of man.’

 

Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus. C.F. Tunnicliffe (Harmondsworth: Puffin Books, 1976 (1927)), p. 81

Photo credits: makamuki0 and Adina Voicu at pixabay.com

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