When he is quite sure that no-one can hear him, Algy likes to rehearse operatic arias. A fine full moon lit up the old Atlantic oak forest, so Algy found a comfortable perch and sang a song to the moon at the top of his voice.

[Algy suggests that those who prefer a more melodious version might like to listen to Anna Netrebko singing Song to the Moon from Dvorak’s opera Rusalka.]


Peace Comes Dropping Slow

In honour of the wonderful poet, William Butler Yeats, who died on this day in the year 1939, Algy invites you to listen again to a unique reading by Yeats himself of Algy’s favourite poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree, in an archive recording published as part of the BBC Poetry Season.

          I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
          And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
          Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
          And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

          And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
          Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
          There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
          And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

          I will arise and go now, for always night and day
          I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
          While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
          I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

The strong south-westerly wind was bringing slightly milder weather as it rushed and sighed through the trees. Algy perched in a sheltered bush, above the nodding heads of the first snowdrops of the year, and looked through a book of verse while the other birds practised their songs for the coming spring.


Listen to the West Highland birds rehearsing their spring songs to the accompaniment of the south-westerly wind, as Algy reads his book of verse beside the first snowdrops of the year.

{The sound will be clearest through headphones or external speakers.}

On Burns Night, Algy gazed at Ben Nevis across the upper reaches of Loch Linnhe and thought of all those people in far away places whose hearts are in the Highlands but who are not able to be here.

Listen to this beautiful traditional version of Robert Burns’ song My Heart’s in the Highlands performed by Shona Donaldson and Katie Mackenzie.

Break, Break, Break


Algy sat on a rock with the Atlantic waves crashing around him, and thought of the neighbour who had just died in mid-life, of Lindsey’s young friend Connor who had died in mid-childhood, and of all those friends and strangers whose lives ended much too soon. Inevitably he was reminded of Tennyson’s famous elegy:

          Break, break, break,
              On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
          And I would that my tongue could utter
              The thoughts that arise in me.

          O, well for the fisherman’s boy,
              That he shouts with his sister at play!
          O, well for the sailor lad,
               That he sings in his boat on the bay!

          And the stately ships go on
              To their haven under the hill;
          But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
              And the sound of a voice that is still!

[Algy is reciting the first three stanzas of Break, Break, Break by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

The Clouds Hang Over It, Heavy and Gray


Although the days were already beginning to grow longer and just a wee bit brighter, the Highland winter was deepening at the same time. Algy put on his hat and scarf and settled himself among the sharp Marram grass of the sand dunes, now softened by the snow, to contemplate the moody sea and sky.

           Stand here by my side and turn, I pray,
              On the lake below, thy gentle eyes;
           The clouds hang over it, heavy and gray,
              And dark and silent the water lies;
           And out of that frozen mist the snow
           In wavering flakes begins to flow;
                                  Flake after flake
           They sink in the dark and silent lake.

[Algy is quoting the first verse of The Snow-Shower by the 19th century American poet William Cullen Bryant.]


As Algy bathed in his puddle, he listened to the pitter-patter of the rain falling around him and the twittering of the other birds in the trees.

{You may need to turn up the volume if you are listening through built-in computer speakers.}