The next dawned bright and sunny, and the forest birds were calling happily in the trees as they went about their daily routine. But when Algy perched on a dead branch of one of the many trees felled by the vicious winter storms, the play of light and shadow around him seemed almost as eerie as it had been the night before, on All Hallows’ Eve. As he gazed at the dancing patterns of light on the deep carpet of moss and pine needles which covered the forest floor, he thought of a poem he had learned long ago, when he was just a wee chick:

‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,  
  Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses  
  Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,  
  Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;  
  ‘Is there anybody there?’ he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;  
  No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,  
  Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners  
  That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight  
  To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,  
  That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken  
  By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,  
  Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,  
  ’Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even  
  Louder, and lifted his head:—
‘Tell them I came, and no one answered,  
  That I kept my word,’ he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,  
  Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house  
  From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,  
  And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,  
  When the plunging hoofs were gone.

[ Algy is quoting one of his favourite childhood poems, The Listeners, by the early 20th century English writer Walter de la Mare.]

It was a north wind day, which meant that the view to the islands was fine, and the sea was a deep, deep blue, but the air was raw and cold. Algy flew up onto the headland in the late afternoon, when the shadows were growing long, and perched in a special place he knew, where an old tree stood framed in a gap looking out towards the isles. He was thinking of friends far away, whose lives were also full of shadows at this time, and he remembered a poem by Walter de la Mare:

          Sweep thy faint strings, Musician,
            With thy long, lean hand;
          Downward the starry tapers burn,
            Sinks soft the waning sand;
          The old hound whimpers couched in sleep,
            The embers smoulder low;
          Across the wall the shadows
                 Come, and go.

          Sweep softly thy strings, Musician,
             The minutes mount to hours;
          Frost on the windless casement weaves
             A labyrinth of flowers;
          Ghosts linger in the darkening air,
             Hearken at the opening door;
          Music hath called them, dreaming,
                 Home once more.

[ Algy is quoting the poem The Song of Shadows by the early 20th century English poet Walter de la Mare. ]

Algy was feeling utterly bedraggled. He couldn’t fly as his feathers were still heavy with salt water, so he tucked himself into a hollow between the nearest rocks. Unfortunately, the tide was still coming in fast, so he knew that he would have to move again very soon. For the moment, however, it was too hard to find the energy, so Algy just sat there staring out bleakly at the sea, which was obviously feeling very playful in the brisk south-westerly wind. It reminded him of a short poem by Walter de la Mare:

          The sea laments
          The livelong day,
          Fringing its waste of sand;
          Cries back the wind from the whispering shore –
          No words I understand:
          Yet echoes in my heart a voice,
          As far, as near, as these –
          The wind that weeps,
          The solemn surge
          Of strange and lonely seas.

Algy dedicates this GIF especially to Erika, and to his other Tumblr friends who love the sea but live far away from it.

[Algy is quoting the poem Echoes by the early 20th century English poet Walter de la Mare.]

Cold Blows The Wind

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The north wind was vicious and the sunlight was feeble and cold. Algy didn’t feel like getting up in the morning, but the days were much too short now to be wasted. So he fluffed up his feathers and flew down to the sea with a book of poetry under his wing. Tucked into a sheltered corner among the rocks, Algy read happily in the cool light reflecting off the water all around him, listening to the sounds of the Sea of the Hebrides (audio post below) as the wind drove the waves spitting and surging onto the beach beside him.

         Cauld blows the wind frae north to south,
         And drift is driving sairly ;
         The sheep are couring in the heugh,
         Oh sirs! it’s winter fairly.
         Now up in the morning’s no’ for me,
         Up in the morning early ;
         I’d rather gae supperless to my bed,
         Than rise in the morning early.

         Loud rairs the blast amang the woods,
         The branches tirling barely,
         Amang the chimley taps it thuds,
         And frost is nippin sairly.
         Now up in the morning’s no’ for me,
         Up in the morning early ;
         To sit a’ the night I’d rather agree,
         Than rise in the morning early.

         The sun peeps o’er the southlan’ hill,
         Like ony tim’rous carlie;
         Just blinks a wee, then sinks again,
         And that we find severely.
         Now up in the morning’s no’ for me,
         Up in the morning early ;
         When snaw blaws into the chimley cheek,
         Wha’d rise in the morning early.

         Nae linties lilt on hedge or bush,
         Poor things, they suffer sairly ;
         In cauldrife quarters a’ the night,
         A’ day they feed but sparely.
         Now up in the morning’s no’ for me,
         Up in the morning early ;
         Nae fate can be waur, in winter time,
         Than rise in the morning early.

[Algy is reading Cold Blows The Wind, a lesser-known Scots poem by John Hamilton, published in Walter de la Mare’s anthology Come Hither.]