29 August 2013

The Boblink or Bob-Lincoln - An 1841 Poem

By Thomas Fisher.
Upon New-Hampshire’s grassy hills
My cradle was a tussoc nest,
My lullaby the murmuring rills;
And there my infant dreams were blest
With visions of June’s laughing hours,
And butter-cups and clover-flowers;
And there my father's simple song
Was ‘happy as the day was long;’
I cannot tell, you cannot think,
How bravely there he sang Boblink!
How gay he sung Boblink, Boblink!
Link-link, Boblink! — Boblink, Link-link!
While yet the sunlight’s strongest hour
Sheds o’er those hills its genial power,
From day to day we nestlings grew,
And when the mowers struck, we flew:
Dreadful destruction came to pass
O’er all those lovely flowers and grass;
And when the men and maidens came
To spread and rake the fragrant hay,
You would not know the scene the same;
Vast ruin happens in a day!
I cannot tell, you cannot think,
How sad my father sang Boblink!
How mournfully he sang Boblink!
Swiftly our orb’s fixed zodiacs run,
That lift and lower the glorious sun,
And soon the slow-declining light
Fell feebly on my native height;
And summer’s scenes and gayest flowers
Gave place to Autumn’s sober hours.
Eternal Instinct’s guardian care,
That guides the wanderers of the air,
Called all the passage-birds away,
Impelled us, though we longed to stay.
The warblers in their native groves,
The web-foots by old ocean's shore,
Rallied their little ones and loves,
To trust the trackless air once more.
Albeit our native fields were bright,
And August flowers were blooming nigh,
Our kindred joined the general flight —
Glad pilgrims to a warmer sky;
We knew that Nature’s harvests there
Were spread for every bird of air:
On the free bounty of her store
Trusted our sires in days of yore.
Our beaux were not in summer dress;
They sang their plaintive autumn notes,
Not those the rattle-caps express
When love incites their merry throats;
So sad their hearts, you would not think
They ever sang Boblink—link-link!
Bright summer ripens many a seed,
But none more luscious than the reed
That robes the islands and broad shores,
Where to the sea Shanunga* pours;
Thither our countless flights repair,
Like starlings blackening all the air.
’Tis a vast festival; the sportsmen pour
A rolling volley on the shore;
Falcons are there; and all-devouring man
Feasts on fat reed-birds! as on ortolan ;
Till cool September bids our millions fly
To the warm mantle of a sunnier sky;
Then o’er Savannah's fertile delta spread,
The rice-plant waves its many-feeding head;
Your Boblink-Rice-bird takes a bounteous share,
And smooths his plumage in a genial air.
Till guardian Nature, that protects us all,
When heroes perish, or when sparrows fall,
Still bids us follow toward the southern zone,
And make the sun’s bright journey all our own.
O’er ‘lands of flowers,’ and o’er the tropic isles
Where all unblanched, perennial verdure smiles;
High o’er the sea-boy through the crimson air,
From isle to isle our myriad swarms repair;
Where Amazon’s luxuriant shores are rife,
And earth’s bright girdle teems with joyous life.
There, while stern winter's deadliest rigors blow,
Our native hills deep-whelmed in drifted snow,
Your Boblink-pilgrim, till life’s span is run,
Worships and migrates with the varying sun:
Until the day-star in his course on high
Wheels his proud chariot in the southern sky,
And strengthening sunlight on our native hills
Wakes from their winter sleep the frozen rills,
And calls the warblers from the orange groves
To the spring scenery of their summer loves:
We take Shanunga’s meadows by the way,
And there we’ll greet you on the third of May:
Our beaux and belles in summer feather,
Our mated birds, gallant and glorious,
We’ll sing for love and lovely weather,
And make the budding groves uproarious.
We stay not; for we seek again
Each his own native mountain glen;
And there, when some kind bird will share
Our fondest loves and parent care,
Near the same spot we'll build a nest,
Where erst our infant dreams were blest:
And when the mower whets his sithe,
He'll listen to the Boblink's song:
Earth cannot boast a bird more blithe,
When June's gay hours are bright and long.
September, 1841. The Knickbocker 18(3): 234-236. Only the poetic portion of this article is included.