A nightingale for Gilbert White by Jo Bell



Jo Bell is a noted poet whose work has been featured on BBC Radio 4, TV adverts, carved into lock beams and widely published. She has been poet in residence at Glastonbury Festival and on the UK Canals. Her two books on poetry writing, 52: Write a Poem a Week and How to Be a Poet (with Jane Commane) are bestsellers. 























A nightingale for Gilbert White

April 5th, 1768















Buds and shadows fatten, but the garden’s lean.

A London smoke crawls west, and cucumbers

are tortoising across the sweat-sweet dung.


A nuthatch jars and clatters in the oak;

rooks get cocky in the Selborne copse. At last

the air is quick with bee-flies, kites and larks


and April falls across the parish like stained glass,

like rest for the broken-backed. The diarist

dashes off one word to stand for spring – Luscinia!


Colour blurs from every quickened hedge

into the woodsmoke hours. The nightingale

loops speechless syllables on every thorn.

Attention, after all, is prayer. Nothing goes unseen.



Jo Bell


First published in Kith.




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