The Blackbird of Spitalfields

A new poem by Matthew Hollis.

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Four a.m. undone. No lock-ins, no vans 
about their rounds, no running gangs, 
just phrase on phrase of traffic heading north, 
and up above the maze of roofs, a blackbird’s flute, 
unable to distinguish night from day. 
Is it light or land that has him sing 
or fuss for unreached company? 
and still, for all his thirds and major fifths, 
his song not song, but simple call and speech. 
Nothing sings together on this earth but us. 

Matthew Hollis is a poet, editor and biographer. His books include “Now All Roads Lead to France: the Last Years of Edward Thomas” (Faber) and the collection “​Ground Water” (Bloodaxe).

This article appears in the 11 September 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Saving Labour

Free trial CSS