A robin should fly south before the snow,
With others in the flocks of migrant birds,
Quite safe amid this seas’nal ebb and flow—
To miss the chance would surely be absurd!
Yet some stay on regardless of the cold,
They brave the ice and front the blust’ry winds,
Their lone bright breasts are beacons to behold,
Awaiting signs of when the spring begins.
The moment when the sun begins to warm,
And life beneath the snow begins to stir,
Enduring and surviving winter’s storm …
A song erupts within this little bird.
Just know, despite all hardship, you are strong,
And in your heart will always be a song.

 

Connie Phillips is a former English teacher and editor living in Massachusetts.

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6 Responses

  1. Damian Robin

    Thank you, Connie, for this uplifting, poetic song. It challenged me to research further into robins as I saw that you live in Massachusetts and I in the UK and wondered if they were the same bird.
    The illustration for your poem is of a black-headed bird that we don’t see in the UK. The red on the UK/European robin reaches over most of the face but does not go as fully under its body as in this picture. Also, the red of the UK/European is less bright than that of the US bird.
    The robin that I see here is about the size of a house sparrow and so is smaller than the American. The UK/European robin is classified as a chat, while the US bird is a thrush.
    The stay-at-home in winter nature of both species is more wide spread than we might think. The migration has so much variety, I won’t confuse things by putting it here.
    They also have different songs. One website describes them as follows:
    “I find their songs strikingly different. The European robin as a sweet, tuneful, high-pitched warbling melody, rather mournful in winter, similar to twilddle-ooo-twiddle-eeede-twiddle
    “But the American robin sings a raspy-sounding, robust whistling melody that sounds like cheerily, cheer-up, cheer-up, cheerily, cheer-up and is sung zealously in the spring. In winter, it utters a sharp kuk-kuk-kuk call.”
    I’ve heard two stories of how the bird got its red breast. I don’t know which one(s) you may be familiar with. One happens during the Nativity. The bird hears Mary’s call to have the fire in the stable stoked. The (then white breasted) bird fanned the fire with its wings and brought twigs to keep it going. It continued to fan and its breast took on the colour of the flames.
    The other is less of the season but the one I first heard: that it stood under the cross as Christ died and took on some of the suffering in the form of Christ’s blood.
    Both Christian. When the Pilgrims arrived in American and saw a red-breasted bird, they called it a robin and applied one (or both) of these stories to it.
    Thanks for your sweet and positive poem that pushed me to find out more about my adopted name that I chose with my wife when our first child was born. It is now the legal name of our family.

    Reply

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