Photos by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Spideog Mhuire means robin of (Virgin) Mary
(image from The Sherborne Missal, c1400)
At Eucharist a robin, with its song,
drowns out the Gloria and brings to life
a sermon. The Spatzenmesse, miracle
of Mozart, somehow cannot bless
the congregation more than this small bird,
who had significance in the lives of saints.
Kentigern and Servanus were the saints:
the former (Mungo) restored a robin’s song,
after his peers tortured and killed the bird.
The bishop had mourned its loss of life.
Some other holy men had cause to bless
robins. In Brittany, a miracle
occurred when monks needed a miracle;
a robin brought a sheaf of wheat to saints,
who’d ploughed, hoping that Nature would then bless
them with a harvest. They’d brought no seed. Song
reminded them there would have been no life,
nor church for them, by Autumn, save for that bird.
At the Nativity, one little bird
shielded the Christ child, in a miracle,
preserving from immolation His life
and singeing its own breast. Honoured by saints
for perching on the cross, singing its song,
removing thorns, thus being pierced. We bless
it for blushing in deference. To bless
The Holy Family’s footsteps, this tiny bird
covered their tracks, filling their Flight with song:
their salvation a kind of miracle.
And when it warbles with the choir, saints
sense affirmation of eternal life.
God’s holy men-the robin and wren-give life
to small beginnings; prosper and bless;
cheer in dark days of winter all the saints,
past and present, and the fall of one bird
is known to the Divine. The miracle
of creation imbues its warbling song.
May the miracle of this bird’s song,
chirruping in garden, or in hallowed space, bless
and give life to all dejected saints.