Poet Keats’ favorite walk was beside the banks of the River Itchen. I can certainly resonate with that because it is also my favorite walk; hence I write about it a lot and walk beside it frequently. Every day, every week there is something different to see……and hear. Be it rippling water creating shimmering effects. Or when calm and still, photographic images of trees looking as though turned upside down would be challenging to tell the difference.
For William Wordsworth’s poem, a lake rather than a river was his preference for his most famous poem:
‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’.
‘Beside the lake beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing beneath the breeze…….’
He also wrote poems featuring birds. Hence ‘To a Skylark’. A favorite of mine.
‘Ethereal minstrel! pilgrim of the sky!
Dost thou despise the earth where care abound!’
Close to the Itchen, woodland with exceptionally tall trees enhances an already beautiful landscape. A cuckoo was voicing its distinct call seemingly coming from uppermost branches, but impossible to tell precisely where its unique sounds were coming from. Illusive, playing games with humans in the full knowledge that a cuckoo can but be heard and not seen,
An example of Wordsworth’s amazing words:
‘To seek thee did I often rove
Through woods and on the green;
And thou wert still a hope, a love;
Still longed for, never seen!’
An invisible element. The sound was clear as if this elusive fellow were sitting on a nearby fence.
When strolling around woodland near the Itchen, many sounds greet the senses but unlike a cuckoo, visible presences are to be seen.
However, the ones not ‘talking’ loudly to each other are swans. Their regal majesties not requiring the need for other species (as with ducks; quack quack quack) to hear what they are saying and apart from their impressive forms, remain calm and quiet….unless their signets are in danger. Then the hissing and threat of wide wings protect their offspring will visit an intruder.
Hearing a cuckoo for the first time is a surprising and extraordinary experience. But is it a bird? Freeing the Imagination towards fantasy, perhaps cuckoos in a physical form do not exist but their place in the Universe reserved for entities of sound, created to generate curiosity; and frustration for those humans longing for a sighting.
‘Cloud cuckoo land’. A fantasy land where fairies and angels hover around exchanging comments about invisible beings that they can see but mortals cannot. Perhaps engaging in conversation. Or flying with a cuckoo to places unknown, helping it choose a location where……….it can be heard but not seen.