A Dartmoor attraction: Glow-worms.

The Nightingale and the Glow-worm by William Cowper

A Nightingale that all day long
Had cheered the village with his song,
Nor yet at eve his note suspended,
Nor yet when eventide was ended,
Began to feel, as well he might,
The keen demands of appetite;
When looking eagerly around,
He spied, far off upon the ground,
A something shining in the dark,
And knew the glow-worm by his spark;
So stooping down from hawthorn top,
He thought to put him in his crop;
The worm, aware of his intent,
Harangued him thus right eloquent:

‘Did you admire my lamp,’ quoth he,
‘As much as I your minstrelsy,
You would abhor to do me wrong,
As much as I to spoil your song,
For ’twas the self-same power divine
Taught you to sing, and me to shine,
That you with music, I with light,
Might beautify and cheer the night.’
The songster heard his short oration,
And warbling out his approbation,
Released him, as my story tells,
And found a supper somewhere else.

Hence jarring sectaries may learn,
Their real interest to discern:
That brother should not war with brother,
And worry and devour each other,
But sing and shine by sweet consent,
Till life’s poor transient night is spent,
Respecting in each other’s case
The gifts of nature and of grace.

Those Christians best deserve the name,
Who studiously make peace their aim;
Peace, both the duty and the prize
Of him that creeps and him that flies.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Television off, computer off, phone off – boots on…

Last night I drove myself ‘a million miles away’ and set off to Dartmoor in search of Lampyris noctiluca.  There in the darkness under the gorse and hawthorn trees were several – each with its own beacon of bio-luminescence; my nocturnal date was with female glow-worms.  Early July – I make an annual pilgrimage to a spot where I’m confident I’ll see this natural phenomenon. Each earthbound female emits enough light to attract a winged mate, and soon after mating – once her eggs are laid somewhere dark and safe – her light fades and she dies.  To witness an isolated female glow-worm – and the intensity of her little green lamp – dot like in the blackness and vastness of wild Dartmoor is unmissable – while to see several as I did last night, is simply out of this troubled world.

Dartmoor Glow Worm

A truly magical sight to behold.  Dartmoor Glow-worm.

Dartmoor Glow Worm (2)

Bio-luminescence. . .Lampyris noctiluca.



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