Jerome Betts : Ballade of Seasonal Deliveries

‘Warde Fowler gives a very apt description of it
(chaffinch song) in one of his books. He compares
the manner of it to a bowler running with quick
steps up to the wicket and then with an overhand
turn of the arm delivering the ball . . .’

                    -  Viscount Grey: The Charm of Birds



The stage revolves. The cast emit
    Preliminary doh-re-mis –
Twee-tweet! Pink! Pink! Pee-peep! Twit! Twit! –
    Then, gathering volume by degrees,
    Recall descriptive recipes
That Viscount Grey might well extol,
     Such flights as those whose apogee’s
 A chaffinch, running up to bowl.

Male yellowhammers beg a bit
    Of bread, but specify no cheese;
Corn buntings, less insistent, sit
    On roadside wires and jangle keys,
    Though stars that outshine even these
Touch chords to stir the sporting soul –
    In pride of place, good form decrees,
A chaffinch, running up to bowl.

Sounds from the great or ox-eye tit
    Suggest a cycle-pump's thin wheeze,
While reel-like notes rare warblers hit
    Make anglers tremble at the knees
    And starlings  . . .  imitate with ease
The song which strains the self-control
    Of cricket’s deck-chair devotees,
A chaffinch, running up to bowl.

Envoi

    Prince, can you hear? ‘Beginners, please!’
Prepare to play a striking role.
    Your cue? The overture's reprise,
A chaffinch, running up to bowl.