Andrew Motion

Of All the Birds
April 13, 2012 Motion Andrew

Of All the Birds


  1. Magpie


The magpie I like least,

who took my wedding ring

thinking it was his


to hide it in his nest

along with glass and pins

and other shining things.


  1. Nightingale


In the pine wood which grows on the sand dune at Es Grau

rumour has it there are nightingales. Clematis we did find,


thick yellow and gold like honey turned back into flowers,

along with sea-holly and white lilies in the perpetual shade.


  1. Peewit


Eventually I decided on the field

planted with winter wheat, although

the farmer would crucify me if he saw.


It was all down to my kite needing

space not possible in our valley,

although the ground was sodden,


and a trek to the centre hard going.

A peewit kept me company, broken-

winged and weeping, Over here!


tempting me into some act of violence.

Never mind, as long as her plan saved

the nest with its clutch of speckled eggs.


  1. Dipper


One you showed me nested

on the far side of a waterfall,

another in what became a scrap

of air when the current rose.


In all events the dipper marks

his passage with a flinty note

scraped against the softer sound

of everything that water does.


Then ups and quits his rock

to walk along the river’s bed,

as if a living soul had found

a way to haunt the dead.


  1. Cormorant


When it came to leaving

I went with the cormorant

flying well below the radar

and breasting the muddy lake.


Down the road was his double

at home on a rotting fence-post;

shabby wings hung out to dry

closed in the breeze of my passing.



Andrew Motion, currently  Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was knighted for his services to literature in 2009 and was Poet Laureate from 1999 until 2009.  His new collection of poems is The Cinder Path (Faber), and Ways of Life: Places, Painters and Poets (Faber) is his latest collection of essays.