Patrick has been a keen bird observer since walks with his father from a very early age. Always fascinated by the way birds behave, Patrick has tried to capture the essence of their character in his bird poems. He has also developed a talk on poetry of birds that he has presented to senior citizen groups locally in Morningside.
Among a long list of poetry sources, Patrick is particularly keen on the Rialto. Rialto has been called ‘a terrific magazine’ by Seamus Heaney and ‘Simply the best’ by Carol Ann Duffy. It was founded with the concept of an inclusive and diverse world of poetry, open to experiment in form and content, and the current editors strive to keep this vision alive. The magazine appears three times a year with some fifty poems.
The Rialto recently ran a Nature and Place poetry competition.
Rialto website announces Nature and Place poetry competition
A fine collection of bird poetry was published by Penguin books a few years ago. Edited by the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage and Tim Dee, it is called simply The Poetry of Birds.
Cover of "The Poetry of Birds"
That oystercatcher knew my father
My father knew that oystercatcher.
In fields behind Acorn Lodge they trilled "twee- wee"
They nest on the shingle roof of Heriot-Watt University
They seem happiest in youthful crowds by the sea
They've always been with me
The oystercatcher's "twee-wee"
Since that Arisaig dawn that I woke to know them first.
A further selection of Patrick's bird poems, under the title of "Bird Story" can be found here. One of the poems from that selection, "Carpe Diem", is reproduced here, along with a recording of Patrick reading the poem, acompanied by the song of two robins in his garden.
Patrick gave his lecture on Bird Poetry – a few slides from which are included above – to an senior’s group in Morningside.
An eye - a drop of black paint -
with a dun-green feint,
nipping in to take reward.
Chattering to self, heard
sweet cadences in my ear.
Trusty garden companion near
in our cosy space from
which brave bird takes the worm.
Robin (Sue Macnaughton)
Carpe Diem was prepared for Heriot-Watt University Mental Health Awareness Week and was posted on LinkedIn during the pandemic.
Skeins of geese are returning
Now October is here again
Where have they been all through
This long fine summer past?
What did they see up there in Lapland?
Did they make new friends or
Lose their elders on either far journey?
Scotland’s sweet autumn grass and stubble
Drew them back to strut and own the fields again
Where all those geese flocked together
Last winter - though fog and rain and cold
Away from the snow-covered highlands
In those lowland Lothian pastures.
They fly over campus in V-front formations
Straining to keep up the pace and their place
In line on the leading Vulcan-wing foreset
With equal formations above and below, to left and right
Almost joyous to be back in their winter home
Their eager gaggling draws your attention
Up into the sky amongst the gathering clouds
And you smile to yourself - They’re back!
Geese (Sue Macnaughton)