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Up All Night

What is this blackbird doing, singing all night long,
Night after night, as if deceived by streetlight?
Urban blackbirds should have worked it out by now:
The night is not the real McCoy in town,
But lesser day, prolonged by artifice.

Perhaps the ancient Manichaean blackbird brain
Commanding song or silence, forced in modern times
To bathe in pools of compromising light by night,
Has, under Darwin’s laws, adapted and evolved
Into a shades-of-greybird brain today.

This blackbird likes to party, never mind the hour.
Its stamina has kept me nightly company
And neither it nor I is worried that, at dawn,
When, as I used to think, God cries, ‘Cue blackbird!’
It and I may well, displeasing God, have gone to sleep.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by Peter Hetherington