It was winter, near freezing,
I'd walked through a forest of firs
when I saw issue out of the waterfall
a solitary bird.
It lit on a damp rock,
and, as water swept stupidly on,
wrung from its own throat
supple, undammable song.
It isn't mine to give.
I can't coax this birth to my hand
that knows the depth of the river
yet sings of it on land.
Beauty often strikes us unexpectedly, and sometimes oddly. The titular dipper is a bird which is odd in its ability to swim and dive underwater. It must be a strange sight to see a bird burst forth from a cold waterfall and sing, but it clearly caught the poet, Kathleen Jamie, off guard. She cannot give you this beauty, but she can tell you about it. "It isn't mine to give" she says. That bird's song is its own, and even if we imagine it when we read, it's just a shadow of the real item.