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- The Home Book of Verse, Volume 3 - 50/88 -


With the motion and the roar Of waves that drive to shore, One spirit did ye urge - The Mystery - the Word.

Of thousands, thou, both sepulchre and pall, Old Ocean! A requiem o'er the dead, From out thy gloomy cells, A tale of mourning tells, - Tells of man's woe and fall, His sinless glory fled.

Then turn thee, little bird, and take thy flight Where the complaining sea shall sadness bring Thy spirit nevermore. Come, quit with me the shore, For gladness and the light, Where birds of summer sing.

Richard Henry Dana [1787-1879]

THE BLACKBIRD

How sweet the harmonies of afternoon: The Blackbird sings along the sunny breeze His ancient song of leaves, and summer boon; Rich breath of hayfields streams through whispering trees; And birds of morning trim their bustling wings, And listen fondly - while the Blackbird sings.

How soft the lovelight of the West reposes On this green valley's cheery solitude, On the trim cottage with its screen of roses, On the gray belfry with its ivy hood, And murmuring mill-race, and the wheel that flings Its bubbling freshness - while the Blackbird sings.

The very dial on the village church Seems as 'twere dreaming in a dozy rest; The scribbled benches underneath the porch Bask in the kindly welcome of the West; But the broad casements of the old Three Kings Blaze like a furnace - while the Blackbird sings.

And there beneath the immemorial elm Three rosy revellers round a table sit, And through gray clouds give laws unto the realm, Curse good and great, but worship their own wit. And roar of fights, and fairs, and junketings, Corn, colts, and curs - the while the Blackbird sings.

Before her home, in her accustomed seat, The tidy Grandam spins beneath the shade Of the old honeysuckle, at her feet The dreaming pug, and purring tabby laid; To her low chair a little maiden clings, And spells in silence - while the Blackbird sings.

Sometimes the shadow of a lazy cloud Breathes o'er the hamlet with its gardens green. While the far fields with sunlight overflowed Like golden shores of Fairyland are seen; Again, the sunshine on the shadow springs, And fires the thicket where the Blackbird sings.

The woods, the lawn, the peaked Manorhouse, With its peach-covered walls, and rookery loud, The trim, quaint garden alleys, screened with boughs. The lion-headed gates, so grim and proud, The mossy fountain with its murmurings, Lie in warm sunshine - while the Blackbird sings.

The ring of silver voices, and the sheen Of festal garments - and my Lady streams With her gay court across the garden green; Some laugh, and dance, some whisper their love-dreams; And one calls for a little page; he strings Her lute beside her - while the Blackbird sings.

A little while - and lo! the charm is heard, A youth, whose life has been all Summer, steals Forth from the noisy guests around the board, Creeps by her softly; at her footstool kneels; And, when she pauses, murmurs tender things Into her fond ear - while the Blackbird sings.

The smoke-wreaths from the chimneys curl up higher, And dizzy things of eve begin to float Upon the light; the breeze begins to tire; Half way to sunset with a drowsy note The ancient clock from out the valley swings; The Grandam nods - and still the Blackbird sings.

Far shouts and laughter from the farmstead peal, Where the great stack is piling in the sun; Through narrow gates o'erladen wagons reel, And barking curs into the tumult run; While the inconstant wind bears off, and brings The merry tempest - and the Blackbird sings.

On the high wold the last look of the sun Burns, like a beacon, over dale and stream; The shouts have ceased, the laughter and the fun; The Grandam sleeps, and peaceful be her dream; Only a hammer on an anvil rings; The day is dying - still the Blackbird sings.

Now the good Vicar passes from his gate Serene, with long white hair; and in his eye Burns the clear spirit that hath conquered Fate, And felt the wings of immortality; His heart is thronged with great imaginings, And tender mercies - while the Blackbird sings.

Down by the brook he bends his steps, and through A lowly wicket; and at last he stands Awful beside the bed of one who grew From boyhood with him - who, with lifted hands And eyes, seems listening to far welcomings, And sweeter music than the Blackbird sings.

Two golden stars, like tokens from the Blest, Strike on his dim orbs from the setting sun; His sinking hands seem pointing to the West; He smiles as though he said - "Thy will be done": His eyes, they see not those illuminings; His ears, they hear not what the Blackbird sings.

Frederick Tennyson [1807-1898]

THE BLACKBIRD

When smoke stood up from Ludlow And mist blew off from Teme, And blithe afield to ploughing Against the morning beam I strode beside my team,

The blackbird in the coppice Looked out to see me stride, And hearkened as I whistled The trampling team beside, And fluted and replied:

"Lie down, lie down, young yeoman; What use to rise and rise? Rise man a thousand mornings Yet down at last he lies, And then the man is wise."

I heard the tune he sang me, And spied his yellow bill; I picked a stone and aimed it And threw it with a will: Then the bird was still.

Then my soul within me Took up the blackbird's strain, And still beside the horses Along the dewy lane It sang the song again:

"Lie down, lie down, young yeoman; The sun moves always west; The road one treads to labor Will lead one home to rest, And that will be the best."

Alfred Edward Housman [1859-1936]

THE BLACKBIRD

The nightingale has a lyre of gold; The lark's is a clarion call, And the blackbird plays but a box-wood flute, But I love him best of all.

For his song is all of the joy of life, And we in the mad, spring weather, We too have listened till he sang Our hearts and lips together.

William Ernest Henley [1849-1903]

THE BLACKBIRD

Ov all the birds upon the wing Between the zunny showers o' spring,- Vor all the lark, a-swingen high, Mid zing below a cloudless sky, An' sparrows, clust'ren roun' the bough, Mid chatter to the men at plough, - The blackbird, whisslen in among The boughs, do zing the gayest zong.

Vor we do hear the blackbird zing


The Home Book of Verse, Volume 3 - 50/88

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