Sound of music

The dverse quadrille prompt is ‘sounding-off’. Sound is such a vast and beautiful area I wrote two.

Photo ©Malene Thyssen


Even when the traffic growls

and rappers grumble

and drunken shouts tear up the evening air,

I hear the sound,

sometimes far, sometimes near at hand,

the pulsing music,

water-ripple, star-bright,

sun-dappled, honey-sweet,

petal-soft and love-fierce,

the ancient, insistent notes

of the blackbird’s song.


In the seashell,

rolling in the spirals and whorls

and roundy curls

is all the majestic, uproarious sound

of the ocean heaving deep and green

and poplars ranting their rustling dreams,

and if you listen carefully,

behind the song of the surf,

a blackbird.



Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

66 thoughts on “Sound of music”

      1. You are quite right. Messiaen adapted the microtonal pitch and rhythms of birdsong to fit the organ or orchestra, the result being an ‘enlargement’ of the sound altogether.

      2. I still think that woodwind doesn’t sound the same. The quality of the sound is different, like the difference between human speech and a dog barking.

  1. What a wonderful play in contrasting sounds–the prevalence of the blackbird as opposed to all awful noises we humans can sometimes impose upon creation. If we stop to listen, nature always one-ups the opposition.

    1. Thank you! Wallace Stevens was one of the poets I studied at university. I do like this poem and his position of the blackbird at the centre of absolutely everything 🙂

      1. A thread running through the world, one of those many that maybe we don’t notice, but tie things together and we would miss if they were absent. That is what I thought when I read these.

  2. The sound of your music is much more melodious than Julie Andrews. The morning birds, especially the blackbirds are a chorus all their own. Only ones I don’t much care for are the raucous grackles.

  3. I love everything about both of these quadrilles! It seems no matter what, if we listen closely enough we will hear the blackbird’s song and that’s as it should be. 🙂

  4. Such a lyrical way to describe a blackbird’s song, Jane:
    ‘water-ripple, star-bright,
    sun-dappled, honey-sweet,
    petal-soft and love-fierce’.

  5. Oh this is interesting…..I actually find myself listening to your words! So you’e obviously done a “real” poem of sounds here! 🙂 I especially love the second stanza and these words
    “poplars ranting their rustling dreams,” and the idea of the shell….There is magic when one puts that shell to your ear….
    and the refrain, the song of the blackbird.
    Beautifully writ!

  6. I wish I knew how your blackbird sounds because I would love to hear its song. I think that’s why this poem of your works so beautifully is because you hear that song and your emotions become words.

    1. Here’s a recording Sascha. I’ve been assuming everyone knows what they sound like—it’s such a familiar part of north european summer sounds.

      The female birds always make me smile, clucking and fussing like hens 🙂

      1. Thanks, Jane. The blackbird has a beautiful call. We have a red-winged blackbird, but its call is nothing like yours. We have a lot of finches though that sound lovely and catbirds and mockingbirds and cardinals, oh, this list is just going to keep growing. 🙂

      2. The European blackbird is a type of thrush, not related at all to the New World blackbirds. Our songbirds are all different. Just so long as we hang onto them!

      3. We have thrush. I was thinking as I heard the song, it’s similar to one I’ve heard in the country, probably wood thrush. They aren’t that common in the suburbs, which is unfortunate.

      4. When I was growing up, there were as many thrushes in the garden as blackbirds, but they have got much rarer. I wonder if it’s because their diet includes a lot of snails and garden insects that people insist on poisoning.

      5. Yes. We have an electronic neighborhood network and people are always asking about ways to get rid of bugs. It seems the first inclination is always eradication. 😦

      6. I refuse to be the start of a chain reaction that ends up in some bird or fox’s gut. If a plant can’t cope with slugs or snails, I just try something else. You can pick out a lot of the critters by hand and dump them somewhere (shed roof in our case) where the birds will get them. The aphids have lots of natural enemies so better to encourage ladybirds and bluetits than use the nuclear deterrent on them!

      7. I won’t use any chemicals, first because I don’t like them, but also because it’s hard to know just how much research has adequately been done and how much lobbyists for pesticide companies have influenced the revealed “science.” If something’s killing ants, how can it not also be killing bees and other creatures? Yes, so I don’t spray anything and have lots of birds and neat insect creatures.

      8. That’s how we should all do it. Somethings are just too fragile to flourish without artificial help. It’s probably a good idea to just plant what does well and enjoy all the other things the garden brings. As you say, if a product kills ants it kills other things too, and what happens to the critters that eat ants?

  7. So many beautiful, sounds, images and thoughts here, Jane. You write so gracefully and with perfect musicality. And….blackbirds! Wonderful choice. A pleasure to read 🙂

  8. I love ‘petal-soft and love-fierce, the ancient, insistent notes of the blackbird’s song’ ..gorgeous ❤️

  9. These are both wonderful, but I like the first one best. I think because you’ve juxtaposed the lovely song of the blackbird with the noises of life that we can’t seem to escape.

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