The Meaning of Birdsong – a poem

This poem was sent in to us by one of our readers, Peter Taylor






Warm May morning, pink azaleas alight,

never been so bright before, so

fiery so soon after winter’s wake

(quite late this year). I toast my feet beneath

a dodging sun, soaking up essential D, and

settle on a garden seat to listen to what I

cannot see: a tree-top high cacophony

of birdsong, every note unique.


I speculate as to the true translation

but know their secrets pass with species.

One thing that strikes me, though, is that

every melody is sung in a major key.

Does that mean anything? I think on this

while birds continue to give no clue.

Does a minor key mean sad, unhappy?

There’s a question that takes us deep.


A sudden rush of revelation gets me

heaping piles of poignancy: a lover’s laughter for

a lover lost; Viola “smiling at grief” for a

hopeless love – where we mix on canvas

colours that are forever bright with others

condemned to eternal night: she is dead but

so loved me; I love him but he can’t

love the person he has made me.


Sweet melancholy haunts the space between

light and dark: a love that was, now is no longer;

a love given that can’t be taken. A minor key

may begin a piece but, wait, move just one finger,

the clouds shift and linger long enough to cue in

light and love waiting patiently in the wings.

I know them now to be the same thing; and

wait for that, quietly, to sink in.


Meanwhile, the birds still sing away –

I wonder if they’ve seen the play or ever wear

attractive lockets (I’ve heard that magpies

pick our pockets). I’ll never know for certain.

But just before we drop the curtain, listen

closely, try to guess what they are saying.

I guarantee you’ll find a major key – beyond that,

your guess will be as good as mine.


Subscribe to Your View
Our weekly email direct to your inbox

Stay updated with all the latest local charity and community news, upcoming events and much more.