Thoughts Story

Thought of the week: Patience

  This week Michelle Terry reflects on a childhood memory of a blackbird and talks about the need for endurance and patience at this time

3 minute read

Text: Though patience be a tired mare, yet she will plod. from Henry V Act II Scene 3, a King sits on his throne looking fed up with his chin resting on his hand

Once upon a time, when I was twelve, I arrived home from school as usual; it was so hot that I opened the window in our living room and found a tiny blackbird under the window sill. It must have fallen, broken its wings, and was struggling for air.

So I got a paper straw from the messy drawer and slowly dropped some water into the bird’s mouth for what felt like hours, and waited for my dad to come home from work to help me take care of her.

I knew she was going to die. That was inevitable. But the least I could do was be with her as it happened.

And I remember feeling totally absent of hope.

For Richmond in Richard III, ‘True hope is swift and flies with swallow’s wings’

For Emily Dickinson:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul–
And sings the tune without the words–
And never stops – at all –

But for my dying blackbird, hope was a wasted feather on a broken wing.

There are so many birds with a broken wing at the moment.

And if hope is the thing with feathers, but the wings are broken, how are we going to fly?

In Much Ado About Nothing when Hero is shamed so publicly and so painfully, when all is lost and hope is gone, Friar Francis says: ‘Come, lady, die to live… have patience and endure.’

Have patience and endure

Because in the meantime…

Orion the common cuckoo, cuckoo number five of the Mongolian Cuckoo project, took off from Mongolia in June 2019, and scientists watched in awe as he made a 26,000km trip to South Africa.

Scientists watched in awe; as the bird they had tracked to better understand migration, crossed 27 borders, 16 countries, and landed on the shores of a country 26,000km from home.

Last week they discovered a new planet. A brand new planet 40 times bigger than ours, 730 light years away. The National Geographic called it a “roasted world known as TOI-849b” just hanging by a thread in the great cosmos of which we are a part.

Though patience be a tired mare, yet she will plod. There must be conclusions.

If we can stay patient, if we can keep plodding, we may eventually see the ‘providence in the fall of’ a blackbird, the awe in the flight of a cuckoo and the possibility of a ‘world elsewhere’.

If we can just ‘have patience and endure’.

Leaf illustration

Though patience be a tired mare, yet she will plod. There must be conclusions.

– Henry V



Each week during the UK’s current Coronavirus crisis, our Artistic Director Michelle Terry shares her thought of the week.

Using Shakespeare’s language, Michelle reflects on the individual and universal meaning of the words. By giving personal and emotional insight, she uses the quote to relate to, and express, the mood of this uncertain time.


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