Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Steve Whitaker
Literary Editor
5:52 PM 12th December 2020

Poem Of The Week: 'The Dipper' By Kathleen Jamie

The Dipper
The Dipper
The Dipper

It was winter, near freezing,
I'd walked through a forest of firs
when I saw issue out of the waterfall
a solitary bird.

It lit on a damp rock,
and, as water swept stupidly on,
wrung from its own throat
supple, undammable song.

It isn't mine to give.
I can't coax this bird to my hand
that knows the depth of the river
yet sings of it on land.

Kathleen Jamie
Kathleen Jamie
Kathleen Jamie’s wonderful, concise poem of winter discloses a sense of freedom and energy in the natural world that might remain concealed to the quotidian observer. Simple descriptive verse, like the taking of a photograph, could not do the eloquence of organic power adequate justice, for the poet’s lyrical antennae pick up unchannelled instinct here, a suggestion in the aether that an untamed symbiosis with nature may be inferred but never fully apprehended.

The dipper’s solitary congress with its habitat is as unknowable as its shamanic dance, but the ‘depth’ of its instinct, the limitless undammability of its voice, transcends the blind purpose of the river; the bird, in the end, is the bridge between two worlds, interpreting an unseen void in the rhyme and half rhyme of ‘supple’ song, and in metaphorical realisations of the element which is its home and muse.