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.

22 Responses to Aurelian

  1. Pat Cegan says:

    Lovely, Harry, and thanks for including the definitions. There is a special bond with a forever friend that only time and history can create. I have a couple of friends that have been in my life for more than 50 years. Hugs, pat

  2. Ector Ward says:

    I’m not into entomology, but you made me cry. Now I love your butterfly hunting friend, too. Thank you.

  3. Old-Raven says:

    Oh my, so many places that I should like to be … I think that the first line is brilliant … of course. This is a lovely “sharing” of this friendship.

  4. jhpoetry says:

    wonderful tribute here, very descriptive friendship…

  5. This is wonderful, a beautiful tribute. I have a character named Aurelian its a beautiful word and great title

  6. meiro says:

    A very lovely tribute to a friend.
    A nice remembrance.
    All blessing.

  7. mairmusic says:

    The feel of those mountain vistas is in this one– a lovely tribute!

  8. Ms. Queenly says:

    I can only be fortunate to someday have a friend to write poetry about, thinking of the time years ago when we met.

    And I learned some new words today too! Aureus would make a nice name for a character that popped into my head as soon as read it’s meaning. Thank you for this.


  9. Olivia says:

    A very beautiful tribute..! This is just the perfect way to say it.. 🙂 xx

  10. Teri C says:

    A beautiful tribute to a dear friend. I can just hear the fun you had together.

  11. Ina says:

    Moving tribute to an old friendship, beautiful.

  12. debi says:

    Such a nice remembrance.
    Thank you for taking us along on your travels.

  13. how sweet!!!! Nice memories to hold on to as well 🙂
    enjoy the rally!

  14. mitu says:

    its lovely……..thank you 🙂

  15. That is a lovely tribute to your friend.

    Thank you for dropping by my blog. 🙂

  16. Leo says:

    Ah, butterfly hunters 🙂 I loved your tribute to your friend..

    Thanks for dropping by mine..

    • Hi, Leo. They were great days – as time went on we moved away from specimen hunting to mapping of distribution and habitat. It would have been wonderful to have had my tiny digital camera in those days. Lugging around a couple of pounds of glass lens and an antique flash seems heroic now.

  17. Jingle says:

    what a kind and thoughtful tribe to your old friends.
    bless both of you.

    I am thrilled to see you share.
    have fun!

  18. vivinfrance says:

    A lovely tribute. I shall now lean on you for all questions of insect identification!

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