The Sky Dancers – an original poem

Red Kite over Huntercombe Golf Club, Gangsdown Hill, Nuffield, Oxfordshire, 5th March 2013

Nothing is wasted, especially not my journeys to college. Driving back and forth I love watching for wildlife, and take particular joy in the Red Kites of Berkshire and Oxfordshire, which have previously inspired my Plough ‘Sunday’ grace.

I first fell in love with these birds in the 1980s as a teenager, holidaying with my family near Tregaron in Wales on land owned by Miss Frances Evans, who is attributed with saving the Red Kites of the Cambrian mountains. Since then I have photographed them at Gigrin Farm near Rhyader, been aware of and watched their spread back into the UK from captive release schemes, and now we sometimes even get them over my house in north-east Hampshire.

What follows is an original offering of poetry inspired of these beautiful birds.

The Sky Dancers

Red Kite, Gigrin Farm, 2005

Sky dancers dip and rise
among the suns intermittent rays.
Silver crowning their russet mantles
they seek the breezes,
pirouetting between unkempt hedgerows
and struggling spears of grain,
tails like some well flighted
sickle-headed arrow
reawakened from among the dead.

Review is watchfully taken
among the rich tilth of worm-worn furrows,
or camouflaged in silhouette
among gnarled oaken fingers
rigid against winter’s stark horizon.
A piercing eye
scornfully regards its raptor relative,
regally disdaining hunched countenance
in favour of command.

The 'raptor relative' Buzzard, Gigrin Farm, Rhyader 2005
The ‘raptor relative’ a Buzzard, Gigrin Farm, Rhyader 2005

Such are lives rejuvenated
from Celtic soliloquies,
released to communal ascendancy
between the thoroughfares
of contemporary surmise.
Now among the ancient Wessex downland,
pinpricks of circling history
with fingers dipped in ink,
turn earthward
to distract the nearer gaze.

Though begrudged by some
a share of nature’s bounty
or stolen schoolyard pickings,
the gathering multitude,
lift, tack, yaw and jibe,
a twisting flotilla of eager appetites,
that frighten and mesmerise
with effortless beguiling.

Red Captive feeding, Gigrin 2005
Red Captive feeding, Gigrin 2005

As hypnotised,
we raise our eyes to follow
the constant tumbling
above the agricultural year,
let us celebrate
the sky’s dancing corps
of chestnut pilgrims,
and stop to praise the resurrection
of creation’ s call.


(Edited very slightly after reading it at our OMC review night, June 2013)



  1. Dear Rachel,
    I have just found your website; I was doing a search for poetry based on the red kite. Not the box on a string, but the feathered variety!

    I volunteer for Friends of Red Kites and next year, which is a double Anniversary Year, we shall celebrate with a huge event at The Sage Gateshead. Our Newcastle University post-graduate Music students are working on a composition to celebrate the Return of the Red Kites to our northern skies, ten years since the first chick was released and five since the inauguration of our Friends group.

    I discovered your kite poem,. The Sky Dancers. May I send it to Professor Fernandez? Would you allow us to use it as inspiration for either the composition or possibly a choral piece? We are just in the planning stage and the event is Saturday 5th July 2014.

    I was Head of English at our Church Middle School for twelve years and feel very strongly that poetry can enrich our lives. I’m also hoping to bring on board Poetry in Motion – this is a means of getting people’s and children’s work onto our local Metro trains.

    I find the only time I can put words onto paper is when I am bereaved. When the guinea pig died, when our beloved cat died and in February, when my beloved husband died, at ninety-one. But no regrets; we missed our Golden Wedding in July, but he was living a half-life and suffering from dementia. He was our church organist and director of our small ecumenical choir for twenty years. We had a very happy marriage.

    Kind regards,
    Holy Saviour Church Milbourne near Ponteland Northumberland


    • June
      What an honour! I’m flattered you think it worthy of putting forward for such a project.
      In short, yes I would be delighted for use to be made of the poem for such a celebration, especially given our families love of poetry and music. I will contact you via the details you supplied, but which I edited from public view on the website.
      Please do keep me in touch with how this project goes.


  2. Thank you so much, Rachel, for your swift response. God bless!
    Our red kites are loved so much by those who live in Gateshead’s Derwent Valley. People feel that their spirits are truly uplifted when they see these majestic Sky Dancers! Our Event is to be called On Red Kite Wings.
    Thank you for protecting personal details on my initial message.


  3. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t in when you telephoned. I was at at The Sage Gateshead for a Supporters’ Event. We were allowed to sit in on the rehearsal for the Evening Christmas Concert, with simon Halsey conducting both the Royal Northern Sinfonia and the three Quay Choirs. Magical!

    Please feel free to e-mail me if necessary.

    I look forward to hearing from you.


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