Today, I remembered a friend. I wrote this for him after he had gone.
For David Grange FRES
You’ve flown away, my oldest friend.
Remember when we met forty-three years ago
at that meeting of the South London
Entomological and Natural History Society?
Glad to know each other, two ordinary chaps
surrounded by belted earls and retired admirals,
we huddled against those aristocratic panelled walls
and went for a pint afterwards.
Ah! The mountains we climbed,
the beetles we uncovered in the dung
on that bright turf in the crags of the Quiraing,
towering above Skye and with Ardnamurchan beckoning.
We’ve sat on the crest of the Shiants,
in the thrift, smoked our pipes and listened
to the emptiness at the centre of the Minch
through the soft drone of humble-bees.
On Surrey commons at night
we painted beery treacle onto tree trunks,
went to the pub for our own delight,
came back to investigate inebriated moths by torchlight.
All those young years have gone and we went grey.
Where are you now my friend?
I shall look for you
whenever a migrating plusiad flashes by.
Harry Nicholson 2007
Not in most dictionaries:
FRES, Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society.
Aurelian, a butterfly hunter, late 18th C. From aureus (latin.. golden)
Plusiad, one of a genus of moths; here ‘Plusia gamma’ the ‘Silver Y’ moth, a migrant.
Shiants, a group of small Islands off the Outer Hebrides.
Minch, the sea area between Outer Hebrides and Scottish mainland.