Shortening Days at the Homestead : Thomas Hardy

By Thomas Hardy, always good on birds.  Perhaps it’s my imagination, but it does seem to have been a good year for sparrows this year.


Shortening Days at the Homestead


The first fire since the summer is lit, and is smoking into the room:

The sun-rays thread it through, like woof-lines in a loom.

Sparrows spurt from the hedge, whom misgivings appal

That winter did not leave last year for ever, after all.

Like shock-headed urchins, spiny-haired,

Stand pollard willows, their twigs just bared.


Who is this coming with pondering pace,

Black and ruddy, with white embossed,

His eyes being black, and ruddy his face

And the marge of his hair like morning frost?

It’s the cider-maker,

And appletree-shaker,

And behind him on wheels, in readiness,

His mill, and tubs, and vat, and press.


If you happen to want to see Sparrows spurting from the hedge, then get yourselves down to Little Bowden Recreation Ground, where it’s a common sight.  I have tried to photograph them, but the little buggers are too small and fast-moving, for my camera, at least.  Here are some slower ones, if you want to be reminded of what they look like –

4 thoughts on “Shortening Days at the Homestead : Thomas Hardy

  1. I like “shock-headed urchins”. That’s just what they look like.

    All a bit dispiriting about the Pakistan team. I felt so sorry for whatsisname on the radio saying it was great to win but not under those circumstances.

    • It is all a sad business, though I can’t say I’m really surprised. Never a dull moment with Pakistan. I think Whatsisname’s out of the side at the moment – perhaps you’re thinking of Thingummy?

  2. Very true – they were also putting on a spectacular display in a field off the BVW yesterday after that downpour. I’m no expert, but I think they’re probably swifts. S. Vere Benson says of swifts – Haunt: the sky, anywhere, even over London. (So not fussy).

    You also used to get a lot of swift-type birds (martins possibly) at Trent Bridge, though the redevelopments seem to have got rid of them. I think they used to roost under the eaves of the stand they’ve just demolished.

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