Algy perched on a strong, comfortable branch overlooking the forest and the deep, calm loch, and wondered how much longer the winter would last. It was Burns Night, and often by this time in January the song thrushes had started to sing… but not this year, with its exceptionally stormy winter that threatened to go on forever. As he gazed at the bare branches around him, Algy remembered Burns’ sonnet, written on this day, and recited it aloud in the hope that there might be a song thrush listening in the bushes:

          Sing on, sweet Thrush, upon the leafless bough,
          Sing on, sweet bird, I listen to thy strain,
          See aged Winter, ‘mid his surly reign,
          At thy blythe carol, clears his furrowed brow.
          Thus in bleak Poverty’s dominion drear,
          Sits meek Content with light, unanxious heart;
          Welcomes the rapid moments, bids them part,
          Nor asks if they bring aught to hope or fear.
          I thank thee, Author of this opening day!
          Thou whose bright sun now gilds the orient skies!
          Riches denied, thy boon was purer joys,
          What wealth could never give nor take away!
          But come, thou child of poverty and care;
          The mite high Heav’n bestow’d, that mite with thee I’ll share.

[Algy is reciting the Sonnet Written on the Author’s Birthday on hearing a Thrush sing in his Morning Walk by the 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns, whose birthday on 25th January is traditionally celebrated in Scotland by a Burns Supper.]

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