Week 180: July Evening, by Norman MacCaig

I find this poem by the Scots poet Norman MacCaig (1910-1996) very satisfying for the way it combines practical observation with transcendent vision in a way perhaps reminiscent of Patrick Kavanagh’s poems of rural Ireland.

July Evening

A bird’s voice chinks and tinkles
Alone in the gaunt reedbed –
Tiny silversmith
Working late into the evening.

I sit and listen. The rooftop
With a quill of smoke stuck in it
Wavers against the sky
In the dreamy heat of summer.

Flowers’ closing time: bee lurches
Across the hayfield, singing
And feeling its drunken way
Round the air’s invisible corners.

And grass is grace. And charlock
Is gold of its own bounty.
The broken chair by the wall
Is one with immortal landscapes.

Something has been completed
That everything is part of,
Something that will go on
Being completed forever.

Norman MacCaig

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2 thoughts on “Week 180: July Evening, by Norman MacCaig

  1. Great post.
    He always knew about things like… charlock. I’ll have to look it up.
    But catching the essence of the sound of a bird, rather than trying to duplicate the sound phonetically, that’s real skill.

    • Thanks. I’d like to know what the bird was. The context suggests a reed warbler but they are rare in Scotland. Charlock is or was a common weed of cornfields, a yellow crucifer.

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