When you read The Blackbird of Kirthgarran you will eventually discover why a blackbird is part of the title. I wrote the first draft of the novel thinking of calling it only “Kirthgarran,” but as time went by I found myself searching for a metaphor that would symbolize the plot a little better.
I am very fond of Scottish, English, Irish and Welsh folk songs—and once, when I was listening to the A Glint of Silver CD by Silly Wizard, a light bulb came on and I knew I had found my real title. Without giving away secrets of the storyline, I can say that blackbirds in Celtic traditional song, from references to banished Stewart kings to lost loved ones, stand out as unique symbols. The Irish song, The Blackbird of Sweet Avondale, (find the lyrics here) is heartbreaking. You can hear Silly Wizard’s rendition on YouTube. I never get tired of listening to it.
Since I chose the Blackbird for my novel’s emblem of sorts, I’ve become very attuned to blackbirds. It seems that they show up every time I’m in need of a spiritual lift. In fact, when I was trying to come up with a name for my Web site and graphic design business, I discovered that in Celtic mythology, the blackbird urges us to follow our passions and the callings of our spirit, and thus create lives of purpose. What could be a better symbol for my newest artistic venture?
I was thrilled this spring when a whole flock of blackbirds landed in my pine trees. Oh, what a beautiful sound they made! The distinctive call—how can one describe it in words?—was multiplied by the dozens! The boughs were alive with black wings for almost an hour. I wish they could have stayed, but they were, no doubt, headed for boggier lands for their summer months.
Interestingly, the American blackbird bears red shoulder stripes, whereas the British version does not.
Yesterday I subscribed to a garden magazine called GreenPrints. When I went to Web site to order it, much to my delight I found that the cover of the next issue is graced by a red-winged blackbird. I guess my subscription was meant to be!