Ruba’i: Kite-flying

Rain’s coming. Soon the day will die:
Before the weather hits, we’re high
On this steep slope, to catch a sight
Of kites against the scowling sky.

One pink-and-purple-quartered, bright
And tugging playfully, held tight
By my small girl on wind-taut string.
The other at a watchful height –

A russet silhouette – the king
Of these green hills. With copper wing
And deep-notched tail he tames the breeze;
His hunter’s eye sees everything.

One kite knows only certainties
Control, restraint and boundaries:
One has the freedom of the air
And all its possibilities.

I watch my daughter standing there,
Her laughing face upturned, aware
The moment will soon come when she
Will wish to fly, and I must dare

To let the string run long. Now, we
Are here together – happy, free.
And that means most of all to me
For she means most of all to me.


14 thoughts on “Ruba’i: Kite-flying

    • Hi Ina – thank you! I know she’s going to fly (and soon!) so I guess I’m just hoping the string is long, stretchy and strong enough that she can be completely free, but still comes back now and again!! N.xx

      (Loving your NaPoWriMo work, by the way: wonderful work, and every day, too. I stand in awe. N.)

      • Thank you. I don’t mind if you sit down 🙂
        I write much too many poems anyway so I might as well join that NaPo… I just keep forgetting to mention the NaPo etc. 🙂

        This rhyme scheme here ( aaba, bbcb, ccdc etc, did you invent it? 🙂

      • Hi Ina

        No, I can’t take any credit for this rhyme scheme: it’s the one my hero Robert Frost used for his immortal ruba’i ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’. It’s fun to do because it looks really simple until you get into it; that third line, especially, has to be chosen really carefully, as it sets up THREE rhymes for the next stanza. So it’s quite technical, but hides the fact under a rather folksy, sing-song quality I really like.

        I shall have to do the NaPo thing next time. I’ve done a-poem-a-day for the duration of the Tour de France a couple of times, but that’s only 23 days…and it’s hard. I really admire you for doing the full 30!


  1. This is incredibly wonderful, beautiful, affirming, a tribute to a love that is so important–I’ve run out of words. I’m a bit envious (of the writing and the daughter). God bless you today.

  2. I love this poem, it’s exhilarating.
    I guess one of the charm and excitement I find is due to the fact that the child, who will eventually be dared (love the word) to fly out just like the king of birds, is a girl.
    Since I have never been to Wales, I had to check on google for this. It is the Red Kite this poem is referring to?

    Ayano xxx.

    • Thank you for your wonderful comment, Ayano – and yes, this is about the red kite, which, having been hunted to the brink of extinction, has staged an extraordinary comeback in Wales (and is now spreading east into other parts of the UK, which is very exciting – they’re even being seen here in Sussex) At my mother-in-law’s house, they’re very common – I’ve often seen as many as 30 at the same time – but they’re still very impressive, since they’re huge birds, with a wingspan of about six feet (nearly two metres) They were definitely intrigued by our little kite and came cruising over to have a look – the kind of sight that just begs to be written about! N.xx

  3. The best poetry comes into being, Nick, when we move somehow from the particular to the universal to lines that touch the human heart and spirit. There is so much about this poem that fulfills this formula, touching nature through the red kite, tying the flying of a daughter and father’s kite in the same skies with an enormous bird, the hunter, the universal difference between the control of the kite’s string and the freedom of the red kite’s wings, and then the sudden realization of a daughter growing up and that this moment, at this time, is precious in joy and a childhood that will soon be left behind.
    The craftsmanship is as strong as usual, with the ee repeated magnificently, appropriately, in the last two lines. I read this outloud, and it sounds as wonderful and as it reads.

    • I would love to hear you read this out loud, Tom – so pleased you liked it. It was a great moment; I love the red kites, and they added something very special to what was already a precious time. N.

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