The new beginnings associated with Easter are always accompanied in April/May by a sense of anticipation in nature; awaiting the sighting of the first House Martins or Swallows. I say sighting, but sometimes it is the awareness of their excitable “chatter”. It never fails to bring a feeling of jubilance, in the knowledge that these migrants have returned to build or re-build their homes for the summer.
It is a profound feeling that resonates deeply. This year it was on Good Friday that I was aware the blue sky had received those welcome dark shadows, flying rapidly in apparent purposeful endeavour. The depth of this event is, for me, beautifully encapsulated in the poem by Mary Webb published in 1928.
The swallows pass in restless companies. Against the pink-flowered may, one shining breast Throbs momentary music – then, possessed With motion, sweeps on some new enterprise. Unquiet in heart, I hear their eager cries And see them dart to their nests beneath the eaves; Within my spirit is a voice that grieves, Reminding me of empty autumn skies. Nor can we rest in Nature’s dear delight: June droops to winter, and the sun droops west. Flight is our life. We build our crumbling nest Beneath the dark eaves of the infinite, We sing our song in beauty’s fading tree, And flash forth, migrant, into mystery. by Mary Webb
Reference: Webb, M. (1930) The collected works of Mary Webb. Poems and The Spring of Joy. London: Jonathon Cape, 1928.