Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing…
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning…
Gerard Manley Hopkins, Spring

I interrupt our consideration of education in Plato. The wood thrush is singing in the Valley. That wonder called spring has broken into our lives, again.

Listen to the sound of the Wood Thrush at All About Birds.

Has not Manley Hopkins captured it? The thrush does so rinse and wring in the echoing timber. It strikes like lightning to hear him sing. The wood thrush can be heard throughout most of the eastern half of the United States; at the edge of a woodland is a good place to listen. Yesterday one serenaded my philosophy class as we sat on a bluff overlooking the Shenandoah.

What, indeed, is all this juice, this joy? The natural world around us cannot contain itself. Its very overflow demands to be noticed. By us.

Augustine of Hippo asserts that only the lover sings. What love then, we might ponder, inspires the songs of the birds?

Here are a few more common songs to listen for. Children can learn to recognize these songs. It might just bring them no end of pleasure, to recognize a song on a warm spring morning:

You can search for the song of any other bird at the All About Birds site.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1899) was an English Jesuit priest and is considered one of the greatest of Victorian poets.

Image: a wood thrush

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