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There is something distinctly kafkaesque
and I use the term advisedly
about the sound that jackdaws make
around a distant tower.

Particularly church towers of the Gothic style
with complicated spires and arches
rococo motifs, ogee quatrefoils
tracery, hollows and embrasured niches.

Stately ancestral homes of grey-cowled birds
which have acquired a dubious name
in Rheims and other places
for misappropriation.

Jackdaws and church towers go together
they like the Gothic atmosphere
you don't get rooks around church towers
smock-trousered rooks are wholly countrified.

But you do get jackdaws around rooks
they like to fly with them and dine together
I think jackdaws look up to rooks
as father figures.

Jackdaws Around a Distant Tower

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Neat, trim, compact, well shaped for climbing,
Happiest looping from tree to tree,
Skilled solo drummer, brilliant timing,
shunning all groups and publicity.

Crimson stain below the tail
Like the lady who forgot herself,
Bold crimson bandana worn by the male
Symbol of action, health and wealth.

Ah, handsome bird! A welcome sight,
But one that prefers to live unseen
And fly away if taking fright
When a human ventures on the scene

Oakwoods are best, but they like a change
And one I know seeking greater scope
Flew unusually high over Long Mynd Range
To inspect the woods of Ratlinghope.

So as I was walking through the ling
Which covers the top of the old Long Mynd
Enjoying a stroll on that morning in spring,
Fast and low came the woodpecker, like the wind.

Not a tree was in sight, and his mind was set
On surmounting that barrier high, so high,
And I heard his thoughts as he and I met
"What is this man doing in the sky?


The Celestial Sphere
beloved of astronomers
and alchemists, philosophers
in former times
a paradigm: a paradox

The central orb of Earth
or equally the Sun
surrounded by the Ecliptic path
progressing through the Zodiac
the path of Sun around the Earth
or Earth around the Sun

Between the twin bands of the Tropics
Capricornus gateway of the south
and Cancer of the north
bisected by the great Colures
the Colure of the Equinox
which intersects
where days and nights equate

The Meridian of the Solstice
and the great Equator band
recording when the days are longest
in one hemisphere
and shortest in the other

The circles of the Arctic
and the Antarctic
beyond which latitude
the winter sun will cease to shine

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