Roger Harvey

Rooks

Greedy rogues and undertakers, graveyard birds and thieves;
thus maligned along with other crows,
and all unfairly,
to me these rooks are wise in myth and fact,
riding the tall-tree sky beyond my window,
waking up the spring with their clamorous building.

In windy blue or misty distance,
both rude and shy, stern and friendly,
bred for an ancient England and still timeless,
they mark our seasons with an earthy song:
ground bass for sweeter flutings,
counterpoint to changing centuries.

Born into bare twigs,
they rise and fall above lush green tree-tops,
gilded with high sunshine, gleaming like autumn fruit;
transcendent, divine brightness in their eyes and strong with life,
they will caw us into winter too,
through another spring and into summers richer still than this,
perhaps with golden light more pure upon the black,
and music more glorious than any we have heard.

Roger Harvey was born in 1953 and has been writing professionally since 1966. In the 1970s he was editor of Poetry North-East and was the first poet to read on BBC Radio 1. The story of his USA reading tour is told in the confessional travelogue Poet on the Road. His recently published novels include Room for Us, Maiden Voyage, The Silver Spitfire and Percy and Dinah.