Friday, 8 April 2011

Robin Redbreast

I came across the poem by Wordsworth and it reminded me of the friendly Robins we have in the bottom of our garden. Very familiar and interested in what I'm up to, especially when any digging or wood-chopping takes place. They are particularly interested whenever I play birdsong on my i-phone! It confuses them a bit and they respond. It almost feels like we are having a conversation.

The painting tries to capture the curiosity of a robin listening intently (in a sort of Van Goghesque style). The poem is about a Robin chasing a butterfly.... which I have not yet witnessed. I like the cultural bits about the bird's name in different countries. And the dilemma and tension around two aspects of nature that mankind enjoys, at obvious odds with each other rather than in idealistic harmony. a bit of 'nature raw in tooth and claw'

The Redbreast Chasing the Butterfly by William Wordsworth

Art thou the bird whom Man loves best,
The pious bird with the scarlet breast,
Our little English Robin;
The bird that comes about our doors
When Autumn-winds are sobbing?
Art thou the Peter of Norway Boors?
Their Thomas in Finland,
And Russia far inland?
The bird, that by some name or other
All men who know thee call their brother,
The darling of children and men?
Could Father Adam open his eyes
And see this sight beneath the skies,
He'd wish to close them again.
-If the Butterfly knew but his friend,
Hither his
flight he would bend;
And find his way to me,
Under the branches of the tree:
In and out, he darts about;
Can this be the bird, to man so good,
That, after their bewildering,
Covered with leaves the little children,
So painfully in the wood?

What ailed thee, Robin, that thou could'st pursue
A beautiful creature,
That is gentle by nature?
Beneath the summer sky
From flower to flower let him fly;
'Tis all that he wishes to do.
The cheerer Thou of our in-door sadness,
He is the friend of our summer gladness:
What hinders, then, that ye should be
Playmates in the sunny weather,
And fly about in the air together!
His beautiful wings in crimson are drest,
A crimson as bright as thine own:
Would'st thou be happy in thy nest,
O pious Bird! whom man loves best,
Love him, or leave him alone!

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