The Earthlines Review has published a fantastic article by Kate Carr about birds, sound, poetry and inspiration.
Birds have acted as muse in many different ways. Whether to unlock some hidden longing as Oliver describes in her poem, or to spark the urge to write a poem in the first place, birds and our ideas about them have proven a potent source of inspiration for many artists, writers and musicians. From Mozart to Beethoven to Sibelius and Messiaen, the list of western composers inspired by birds spans centuries of music making. Mozart famously kept a pet starling and cites a cuckoo call in Leopold Toy Symphony, while Beethoven incorporates the calls of nightingales, quails and cuckoos in his Pastoral Symphony. The music writer Alex Ross details the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’s composition of his fifth symphony, a piece devoted to the joy of creation, which features the ‘swan hymn’ in its second movement. In his notebook next to a description of sixteen swans flying over his Ainola home, Sibelius wrote: ‘Lord God, that beauty! They encircled over me for a long time. Disappeared into the solar haze like a gleaming silver ribbon…. That this should have happened to me, who have so long been the outsider’.