14 October 2011

Ode to the Chimney Swallow

The Chimney Swallow, written by Edward R. Campbell. From "Poets and Poetry of Vermont" edited by Abby Maria Hemenway and published in 1859.
WHEN the winter melts away,
Flowing into balmy May;
When the buds and blossoms fair
Waft their fragrance on the air;
When the insects, on the breeze,
Dance around the forest-trees;
Then the twittering swallows come,
Speeding on the breath of spring,
Swiftly to their summer home,
And, like restless spirits, roam
On the wing.
Few at first — a chosen band,
Vanguards, here to "spy the land;"
Yet, ere fades the morrow's sun,
Thousands take the place of one.
Whence they come, or whither go,
Only swallows ever know;
Mortals only know they're here;
Coming, going, twittering;
Coming, going with the year,
Fleeing, ere comes autumn sear,
On the wing.
Whether at the South they rove,
Sporting in the orange grove;
Whether housed in lakes, or fens,
Caverns low, or mountain dens,
Matters not; but, on the wind,
Leaving it to lag behind,
Darting, diving in the air,
On they come, undallying,
Feasting on the insects there;
Void of hope, or fear, or care,
On the wing.
Why, O, bird aerial! fly,
Never resting, through the sky?
Pride? E'en Lucifer may go,
Welcome to the earth below!
Art thou an unearthly thing,
Thou with long, black, narrow wing,
Pinions strong, and body slight,
Speeding, speeding, curveting;
Saving in the gloom of night,
Ever in thy ceaseless flight,
On the wing.
See! in circuits, broad and high,
Circling less and less they fly;
Then in column, hovering low,
Down the chimney's throat they go;
Clinging to its wall the breast, —
Watching for the dawn, they rest.
Such their life from day to day,
Till, as came they in the spring,
Unobserved they pass away,
Speeding as immortals may,
On the wing.