Monday, 15 July 2013

A Strange Visit by Arthur Romney Green

I have been away from the blog for a while, and now Summer has truly arrived.

I came across this lovely hand drawn poem by Arthur Romney Green when I was at the National Art Library earlier this year.  I hope it does not break any copyright by showing some of it here.  There are very faint parallels with my rescue of a blackbird from our raspberry netting in Foundry Meadow a few days ago(!).

A Strange Visit, Arthur Romney Green, Pear Tree Press, 1930
A Strange Visit, Arthur Romney Green, Pear Tree Press, 1930

A Strange Visit, Arthur Romney Green, Pear Tree Press, 1930

Once in the year - I wonder why
But once? - with his sweet bitter cry.
This runner upon earth mounts high
In zigzags black against the sky

Round seaward-looking chimney-tops
Whence, even as we gaze, he drops
Unseen to neighbouring field or copse -,
This runner through the standing crops.

And one year - why but one alone? -
One early morning - why but one? -
A scuffling in the hollow stone,
The wonder-walking of a drone,

As down our bedroom chimney thus
The feathery scuffle and the fuss,
Birth from the stone so beauteous
Of this strange visit! - why to us?

Neither a wounded thing to shame
The soul, and neither sick nor tame,
But freely, this untutored flame
Of wild life, whence or how it came

Into my hand I know not, J,
My only care to let it fly
Ere in my hand it bruise or die
This live thing with the lustrous eye

As of a frighten'd deer! - our guest,
God knows on what fantastic quest,
In silks and satins of the best,
Brown mantle, buff and tawny vest,

His wings so delicately sown
With black upon their velvet brown,
And, blindly quivering to be flown,
His pulses beating to my own,

As, dainty feet and silver thighs
All gather'd with smooth wings, he lies
Breast upward and bewilder'd eyes
A moment in my hand - and flies.

So seldom seen, so often heard,
Your name a long familiar word,
This meeting, why so long deferr'd,
Or why at all, mysterious bird?

Ah, how I longed, but did not dare
Gaze till I laid the secret bare! -
What secret of the earth and air
With their liege delegate to share?

A Strange Visit, Arthur Romney Green, Pear Tree Press, 1930


  1. Ah - he's the chair man isn't he? What a lovely little book, and a poem about the oddest experience. NOT what you expect to come down your chimney - a jackdaw or something perhaps, but not such a land-based bird.

  2. Hi Bovey Belle, yes he is the woodworker. It's a strange tale, a strange visit I guess! I wonder who bought or were given the books?


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