Algy flew into the woodland, to a spot where the trees enclosed a beautiful lochan which formed a perfect mirror. Concealing himself in a straggly heather bush near a bed of water lilies, Algy gazed out at the water and the reflections of the trees, thinking of all his human friends in these deeply troubled times, and especially of his friends in France and Germany. In the peace and calm of the West Highland woodlands, he whispered these verses by the poet John Keats, for all his friends whose souls are wrapped in gloom just now:

When by my solitary hearth I sit,
And hateful thoughts enwrap my soul in gloom;
When no fair dreams before my “mind’s eye” flit,
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head.

Whene’er I wander, at the fall of night,
Where woven boughs shut out the moon’s bright ray,
Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
Peep with the moon-beams through the leafy roof,
And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof

And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
Brightening the half veil’d face of heaven afar:
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o’er my head.

[Algy is quoting the first two verses and the last verse from the poem To Hope by the early 19th century English poet John Keats.]

There was a fierce and bitter north-east wind howling across the headland, and the temperature was only just above freezing, but the sea was a beautiful sea-green-blue, and the surf was a dazzling white. So Algy flew out to a rock just off shore and flattened himself against the cold stone to shelter from the wind. As the waves surged and crashed all around him in the early spring sunshine, he thought of one of his favourite sea poems:

It keeps eternal whisperings around
   Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
   Gluts twice ten thousand Caverns, till the spell
Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
Often ‘tis in such gentle temper found,
   That scarcely will the very smallest shell
   Be moved for days from where it sometime fell.
When last the winds of Heaven were unbound.
Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired,
   Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
       Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude,
   Or fed too much with cloying melody—
       Sit ye near some old Cavern’s Mouth and brood,
Until ye start, as if the sea nymphs quired!

Algy hopes you will all have a happy weekend, even if it is still very cold in your area, and perhaps some of you will be lucky enough to feast your eyes upon the wideness of the sea 🙂

[Algy is quoting the poem On the Sea by the early 19th century English poet John Keats.]

The next morning, Algy ventured back out onto the moor to see what was happening. Intermittent blizzard conditions persisted, but the snow was soft and wet and mixed with sleet, so it tended to melt partially before the next wave swept in. The wind, on the other hand, was fierce and bitter. Algy tried to keep as close to the ground as possible, with his back to the icy blasts. But even in such shelter as he could find, he noticed that all his feathers became aligned in one direction… never a good sign!

As the piercing wind stung his face, Algy remembered a rather unusual poem by Keats:

          O thou whose face hath felt the Winter’s wind,
          Whose eye has seen the snow-clouds hung in mist,
          And the black elm-tops ‘mong the freezing stars,
          To thee the Spring will be a harvest-time.
          O thou, whose only book has been the light
          Of supreme darkness which thou feddest on
          Night after night when Phoebus was away,
          To thee the Spring shall be a triple morn.
          O fret not after knowledge – I have none,
          And yet my song comes native with the warmth.
          O fret not after knowledge – I have none,
          And yet the Evening listens. He who saddens
          At thought of idleness cannot be idle,
          And he’s awake who thinks himself asleep.

[ Algy is quoting the poem The Winter’s Wind by the early 19th century English poet John Keats. ]

Algy perched on a rock beside the edge of the mighty ocean, and thought of all his friends who were feeling fed up or exhausted or ill at this very low point in the northern year. The waves washed around him with their “eternal whisperings” and – remembering the poem by Keats – he hoped that it might help his friends to feast their eyes upon “the wideness of the sea”:

         It keeps eternal whisperings around
              Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
              Gluts twice ten thousand Caverns, till the spell
          Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
          Often ‘tis in such gentle temper found,
              That scarcely will the very smallest shell
              Be moved for days from where it sometime fell.
          When last the winds of Heaven were unbound.
          Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired,
              Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
                  Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude,
              Or fed too much with cloying melody, –
                  Sit ye near some old cavern’s mouth, and brood
          Until ye start, as if the sea nymphs quired!

[Algy is quoting the poem On the Sea by John Keats.]