bird

To The Nightingale

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O Nightingale! that on yon bloomy spray
Warblest at eve, when all the woods are still,
Thou with fresh hope the lover’s heart dost fill,
While the jolly hours lead on propitious May.
Thy liquid notes that close the eye of day,
First heard before the shallow cuckoo’s bill,
Portend success in love; O, if Jove’s will
Have linked that amorous power to thy soft lay,
Now timely sing, ere the rude bird of hate
Foretell my hopeless doom in some grove nigh;
As thou from year to year hast sung too late
For my relief, yet hadst no reason why:
Whether the Muse, or Love, call thee his mate,
Both them I serve, and of their train am I.

 

– John Milton

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The Lark Confined In His Cage

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The lark confinèd in his cage,
And captive in his wing,
Though fluttering with imprisoned rage,
Forbeareth not to sing.

But still the strain, though loud and long,
Is but the mock of mirth,
Not that dawn-dewy nuptial song
That weddeth Heaven with Earth.

Voice that in freedom seems so soft,
Fettered, sounds harsh and rough.
Listen! He shrilleth far too oft,
Nor faltereth half enough.

And I, still feebler it not free,
Do hourly more and more
Grow silent in captivity,
And, if I sing, must soar.

And as the lark’s free carol floats
High on a sea of sound,
So let me fling my random notes
To ripple round and round.

Hark! now he shakes the towering skies,
A carillon of light,
Then dwindleth to a faint surmise,
Still singing out of sight.

And, though in clearest light arrayed
The Poet’s song should shine,
Sometimes his far-off voice will fade
Into the dim divine.

Then we with following ear and heart
Should listen to the end,
Though we descry may but in part,
And dimly apprehend.

Lo! soon he quits his heavenly quest,
Slow-carolling into sight,
Then, quavering downward, strikes his nest,
Earthward aerolite.

So doubt not, dear, that if I soar
Where none longwhile may dwell,
Though Heaven at times may be my home,
Home is my Heaven as well.

 

– Alfred Austin

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The Poet And The Bird

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Said a people to a poet—‘ Go out from among us straightway!
While we are thinking earthly things, thou singest of divine.
There’s a little fair brown nightingale, who, sitting in the gateways
Makes fitter music to our ears than any song of thine!’

The poet went out weeping—the nightingale ceased chanting;
‘Now, wherefore, O thou nightingale, is all thy sweetness done?’
I cannot sing my earthly things, the heavenly poet wanting,
Whose highest harmony includes the lowest under sun.’

The poet went out weeping,—and died abroad, bereft there—
The bird flew to his grave and died, amid a thousand wails:—
And, when I last came by the place, I swear the music left there
Was only of the poet’s song, and not the nightingale’s.

 

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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The Poet And The Bird

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Said a people to a poet—‘ Go out from among us straightway!
While we are thinking earthly things, thou singest of divine.
There’s a little fair brown nightingale, who, sitting in the gateways
Makes fitter music to our ears than any song of thine!’

The poet went out weeping—the nightingale ceased chanting;
‘Now, wherefore, O thou nightingale, is all thy sweetness done?’
I cannot sing my earthly things, the heavenly poet wanting,
Whose highest harmony includes the lowest under sun.’

The poet went out weeping,—and died abroad, bereft there—
The bird flew to his grave and died, amid a thousand wails:—
And, when I last came by the place, I swear the music left there
Was only of the poet’s song, and not the nightingale’s.

 

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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A Bird Came Down

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A bird came down the walk:
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angle-worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw.

And then he drank a dew
From a convenient grass,
And then hopped sidewise to the wall
To let a beetle pass.

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all abroad,-
They looked like frightened beads, I thought;
He stirred his velvet head

Like one in danger; cautious,
I offered him a crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home

Than oars divide the ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or butterflies, off banks of noon,
Leap, splashless, as they swim.

 

– Emily Dickinson

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A Wren’s Nest

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Among the dwellings framed by birds
In field or forest with nice care,
Is none that with the little Wren’s
In snugness may compare.

No door the tenement requires,
And seldom needs a laboured roof;
Yet is it to the fiercest sun
Impervious, and storm-proof.

So warm, so beautiful withal,
In perfect fitness for its aim,
That to the Kind by special grace
Their instinct surely came.

And when for their abodes they seek
An opportune recess,
The hermit has no finer eye
For shadowy quietness.

These find, ‘mid ivied abbey-walls,
A canopy in some still nook;
Others are pent-housed by a brae
That overhangs a brook.

There to the brooding bird her mate
Warbles by fits his low clear song;
And by the busy streamlet both
Are sung to all day long.

Or in sequestered lanes they build,
Where, till the flitting bird’s return,
Her eggs within the nest repose,
Like relics in an urn.

But still, where general choice is good,
There is a better and a best;
And, among fairest objects, some
Are fairer than the rest;

This, one of those small builders proved
In a green covert, where, from out
The forehead of a pollard oak,
The leafy antlers sprout;

For She who planned the mossy lodge,
Mistrusting her evasive skill,
Had to a Primrose looked for aid
Her wishes to fulfill.

High on the trunk’s projecting brow,
And fixed an infant’s span above
The budding flowers, peeped forth the nest
The prettiest of the grove!

The treasure proudly did I show
To some whose minds without disdain
Can turn to little things; but once
Looked up for it in vain:

‘Tis gone—a ruthless spoiler’s prey,
Who heeds not beauty, love, or song,
‘Tis gone! (so seemed it) and we grieved
Indignant at the wrong.

Just three days after, passing by
In clearer light the moss-built cell
I saw, espied its shaded mouth;
And felt that all was well.

The Primrose for a veil had spread
The largest of her upright leaves;
And thus, for purposes benign,
A simple flower deceives.

Concealed from friends who might disturb
Thy quiet with no ill intent,
Secure from evil eyes and hands
On barbarous plunder bent,

Rest, Mother-bird! and when thy young
Take flight, and thou art free to roam,
When withered is the guardian Flower,
And empty thy late home,

Think how ye prospered, thou and thine,
Amid the unviolated grove
Housed near the growing Primrose-tuft
In foresight, or in love.

 

– William Wordsworth

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Freedom

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I WILL not follow you, my bird,
I will not follow you.
I would not breathe a word, my bird,
To bring thee here anew.

I love the free in thee, my bird,
The lure of freedom drew;
The light you fly toward, my bird,
I fly with thee unto.

And there we yet will meet, my bird,
Though far I go from you
Where in the light outpoured, my bird,
Are love and freedom too.

– George William Russell

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