I was half hoping that we would have a little of the snow that we had this time last year, so that I could illustrate this February poem with a snap of a “murderous robin“. But no – only drizzle – so I’ve illustrated it with a Christmas postcard instead, from Grimsby, as it happens. (Where did she get that hat?) The poem is by Robert Graves.
The Christmas Robin
The snows of February had buried Christmas
Deep in the woods, where grew self-seeded
The fir-trees of a Christmas yet unknown,
Without a candle or a strand of tinsel.
Neverthless when, hand in hand, plodding
Between the frozen ruts, we lovers paused
And ‘Christmas trees!’ cried suddenly together,
Christmas was there again, as in December.
We velveted our love with fantasy
Down a long vista-row of Christmas trees,
Whose coloured candles slowly guttered down
As grandchildren came trooping round our knees.
But he knew better, did the Christmas robin –
The murderous robin with his breast aglow
And legs apart, in a spade-handle perched:
He prophesied more snow, and worse than snow.
S. Vere Benson, incidentally, has this to say about the robin – “Nest : of grass, wool, moss and hair ; in a hole in a wall, tree or bank, or any other convenient niche. Very often it is in an old kettle or pail, or even indoors on a bookshelf, or in a church”.
“A bookshelf?” – now there’s a thing I never saw.