Wrens in lit­er­a­ture and cul­ture

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wrens -

The wren fea­tures in the writ­ings of Chaucer and Shake­speare, Wil­liam Blake and John Clare, and most fa­mously, in Ed­ward Lear’s comic verse: Two owls and a hen, four larks and a wren, have all built their nests in my beard. The wren also ap­peared on Bri­tain’s small­est coin, the farthing, from 1937 to 1960 when it was fi­nally with­drawn from cir­cu­la­tion (there were four far­things in a pre-dec­i­mal coinage penny). But the most in­trigu­ing way that wrens fea­ture in Bri­tish and Ir­ish cul­ture is the old an­nual rit­ual of the ‘wren hunt’, in which groups of boys would pur­sue a wren around their vil­lage each Box­ing Day, be­fore cap­tur­ing or killing it and de­mand­ing a re­ward.

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