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Tag Archives Basque


I have not heard a cuckoo here since childhood

when fields were wilder and trees less sparse.

I heard one this year in Gascony,

on the Plateau de Lannemazan,

on a wooded ridge with the late March winds

from the Pyrenees rasping the corn stubs

in the field below and rushing

through the budding trees bright with lichen

and ruffling the flowers on the blackthorn

and the violets among the leaf mould.


Between a gap in the trees the ridge way

was bare limestone.



For Caroline Reeves

The airport signs are in the four languages
of Spain – Basque, Castilian, Catalan,
Galician – three of which Franco outlawed.
(Our Eroski bag will tell us how to
recycle it in all four). El Caudillo,
slightly chinless, rendered the country
tongue-tied for a generation and more.

We arrive at the same time as the swifts –
which buzz our apartment’s balcony
at sunset and loop across the clay-tiled
roof tops and past the Moorish chimneys
– and the last of the vendavales
blowing round the Gothic cathedral
and the archway to the walled Arab harbour.



In an ex-pat’s yard – Flemish or Dutch

the name on the gate suggests – the guinea fowl

panic. Two Booted Eagles are circling

down the valley from the ancient forest

of verdant oaks and chestnuts, sectoring

the yellow fields of maize and sunflowers

toward Monléon Magnoac, a village

now but once, before the Black Death, a new town

on a fortified hill top, one of more

than a thousand to soothe the wilderness

of Aquitaine, Languedoc and,