But in the far off distance I saw a whirling wind;
far out on the horizon,
I saw a whirling wind!
And I could hear a little thing full hearted like a wren;
deep in the swirling of the storm, a droplet diadem.
There somewhere inside the wind a ripple in the light;
like a mirage, like water’s fire,
a whirlpool of the night.
Stepping from the spinning winds, the twisting sands and dust,
a tiger walked and padded forth, singing a dawn chorus.
The tiger padded through the waste his shimmering sides a glare, singing a mournful elegy
of what had gone before.
Such a song I never heard
or ever will again;
like the lonely voice of a green plover or longed for summer rain.
And then I saw a precious thing for where his footprints lay, grew up some white dead nettle like the dawning of the day.
And with his song of sweet lament
a mourned for long dead choir;
new living things sprung from the earth, a birch bark kindling fire.
I saw the place where the roebuck lay, I heard the vixen’s cry;
and I marked a flock of jackdaws across the southern sky.
Yellowhammer, woodlark, grey partridge and quail, were calling from the grasses the cocksfoot and foxtail.
The eel within the spring pool curled in its bed of leaves; and silver-washed fritillaries gilded the woodland eaves.
And with his song of utmost joy, hazels grew gold and green;
as a heron misted northwards over dew cobwebbed hornbeams.
And I awoke on the high blown down
with swallows above my head
and I did not know if these things had been or were to come instead.
And I awoke not knowing,
if the tiger would sing once more; if he would call us back again
as he had done before.’
There under the homely ash
the Reddleman’s daughter yawned;
‘Have I dreamed a dream, oh daddy dear, of how the world was born?’
He stirred the dying embers,
while the hoolets screeched and knelled, as his daughter turned to sleeping sound as a clucket bell.
By James Simpson illustrated by Carolyn Trant