An unexpected bird to open a December blog – but listen for
a moment to this one, who seems to have a lot to sing about.
The song is ‘a prolonged, breathless jingle of strident but not unmusical notes and high trills’ – like no other.
But enough words for now, hear the song...
The Song of the Wren
No need to hunt me –
I’ll let you know
exactly where I am.
I’ll sing out loud –
oh yes you’ll hear me
I repeat – you’ll hear me
up to half a mile away –
a burst of song
five times a minute –
which is why
it’s no surprise
they told the story
about old Stephen –
that saint who hid
then was discovered
to be stoned to death.
They did the same to me
because they said
it was my song.
But here I am
your singing Jenny Wren
who’s survived the stones
the cold and rain
and all that man could hurl
so stop and hear me.
All is well – the world is full
of happiness and song.
Actually, the Christmas Bird is probably the ubiquitous robin.
Yes, despite all those partridges in
pear trees and pheasants in snowy lanes the robin remains King of the Cards.
But here’s a more secretive bird – never ‘tame’ or
unsuspicious, which hops, flits and scurries like a mouse amongst the leaf
It was that strident singing that revealed Saint Stephen, leading to his martyrdom, the story goes. as a result of which, the wren was itself stoned. Thus a strange custom grew up whereby St. Stephen’s Day (December 26th), turning into Wren Day, was celebrated by hunting and displaying a wren with all sorts of associated processions, rituals and dressings-up in many countries, but especially Ireland, which persists to this day, I learn.
Whether it all goes back to Celtic mythology with the wren’s
singing even in mid-winter being seen as a symbol of the past year, or other
confusing tales of an ancient enchantress who killed her suitors and became a
wren, doesn’t really matter.
As our little wren, heard more than seen, continues singing we can imagine whatever we want, varyingly accept all sorts of legends, put our own words to the song.
May we all sing on, especially at this time.
PS Thanks to my friend John St John for his painting, and teaching me about the wren.