20 November 2013

Improving Northwest Pond at Levi Carter Park

The Northwest Pond Natural Habitat Area at Levi Carter Park is cleaner now than it has been for a long time, and it has been seeded to improve the flora because of activities on Wednesday morning, November 20th.

As the sun was rising behind clouds in the east, the day started with a personal, quick pickup of trash, and then a repeat effort. There were two unwanted concrete blocks that were a heavy burden to carry from the edge of the woods to a place along Carter Boulevard where they could be taken away.

There was then an opportunity to converse with a local resident — he stopped his truck on the street to talk — about the ponds, stormwater runoff, street trash, and most importantly experiences with city of Omaha staff. We agreed that a natural setting was something to appreciate. He was not however satisfied that neighborhood has to deal with the trash (and he mentioned several disgusting things) and water from the "upland" to the west. He certainly wanted the ponds to be kept clean and that Levi Carter Park be managed in a manner that reflects local interests. He was more than disappointed in city officials that made claims that something was going to be done, and then nothing happened. There were "promises made" and they have not been completed. His comments were an acute perspective on how some city officials, with Brook Bench, the Omaha Parks Recreation and Public Property Department specifically mentioned as being a particularly problematic official. This residents words may have been different, so his perspectives in conveyed in a civil manner.

We did not agree on everything, but it was obvious that city officials be forthright and honest in what they say and how they present public property changes and plans to the public, and especially to residents in the neighborhood.

Site Improvement

Staff of the Stormwater Section, of Omaha Public Works then arrived. The three men got to work, using rakes to work the soil to improve and prepare its condition for seeding, and also removing errant twigs on the ground.

The seeds they spread were a native prairie-grass mix which included big bluestem, little bluestem, side-oats grama, indian grass, switch grass, said Andy Szatko. These are warm-season species that flourish later in the growing season. Cool-season species included were Virginia and Canada wildrye, and western wheat-grass. The mix included some oat seed with an intention for it to provide a cover crop.

Some forbs were included in the mix, according to Andy Szatko. He indicated jopye weed, partridge pea, spotted menarda, prairie blazing star, black-eyed susan and echinachia were among the seeds spread. They had been individually collected from other stormwater project sites in Omaha, so there was no cost for their purchase.

With snow pending, the conditions are great for the seeds to get established and sprout in the 2014 growing season.

Through a group effort, a bunch of trash was taken away, including numerous plastic bottles along the railroad tracks and newspaper pages, a nearly oblivious pad of some sort among the grass which was personally torn away and taken to the curb for disposal, a large circular piece of plywood, a mess of carpet, a pile of tiles, a tire from the water, and no longer necessary markers for the nearly completed culvert work.

Also at the scene and actively involved on a great day for this bit of a natural area, were city workers Ben Beller, Jim Kee and Christine Antoniak.

Andy Szatko removing a bunch of tile trash.

Ben Beller planting native prairiegrass mix.

Jim Kee checking the recent culvert work, which was not yet entirely finished.

Carpet trash pulled from the woods by Christine Antoniak, along with other trash we removed.

We accomplished a lot.

There were even a few unwanted cedar trees pulled from the ground to ensure this invasive species would not flourish and create a subsequent, unwanted condition among the flora.

The pond area is jointly managed by the Public Works Department primarily, along with the Parks and Recreation Department. The goal is to have a naturalistic setting at the site, Szatko said. Other benefits include improving visual appeal, establishing a buffer at the pond in association with the adjacent streets, enhancing habitat value, and reducing the extent of maintenance, such as mowing.

Public Works is responsible for the maintaining the pond, and ensuring that trash does not accumulate.

On Monday, Public Works personnel had excavated and worked dirt to improve flow conditions through the culvert beneath the U.P. railroad tracks. That work was done with consideration given to the site being a natural habitat area.

The stormwater pond was initially established in the mid-1990s, Szatko said.

Seeds of the native prairiegrass mix.

16 November 2013

Slaughter of Geese by Lightning

On Monday, the 16th instant, an almost incredible occurrence transpired in the northern part of Sutter and the southern part of Butte county. On Monday evening, just before sunset, a large thunder cloud came up, apparently from the northeast, accompanied by an unusual amount of chain lightning. First a small amount of common hail fell, and then followed sufficient snow to whiten the ground. As the hail began to fall and the lightning flashed, thousands of white geese, which were in the ponds of shallow water which exist in that locality during very wet winters, suddenly rose up in great flutter, as if many hunters had discharged a volley among them. they went up and up, apparently to rise above the fearful cloud. It was nearly dark, and those who saw them rise thought no more of it till morning, when they began to find dead geese, and hear of hundreds being picked up by the neighbors. Some 700 had been found. One man picked up on his farm all two horses could haul, for their feathers. Their heads were badly torn and their bills split into fragments. Many of them had the feathers of their backs crisped and burnt and their bodies bursted open. The portion of country thus affected was about a mile and a half wide, and reached several miles in Butte county. The terrific lightning in this cloud was witnessed by people on the Honcut, in Yuba county. The thunder was heard twenty miles distant.

April 29, 1874. Memphis Public Ledger 18(51): 2. From the Yuba City (Cal.) Banner.

Seabirds Thrown Inland by Sweeping Storm in Georgia

The most remarkable occurrence, however during this rather peculiar turn in nature's laws, was a shower of birds Saturday night. On Sunday morning, to the great surprise of the denizens of this city and vicinity, various specimens of the sea bird were found fluttering on the ground. The writer found on his premises a bird commonly known as a didapper, but what we think should be called a palmipid. Besides other species shown us by residents of the city, Mr. A.A. Adams sent us on Thursday a couple of birds widely differing from those previously seen. They have very stout legs, and three completely webbed toes, and bear a striking resemblance to the penguins, auks and other marine diving birds inhabiting the northern part of Europe, Asia and America. This migratory bird, known as the guillemat, makes quite a palatable dish, and while wishing no one an ill wind, we trust friend Adams will soon present us with another enjoyable breakfast. These birds were probably "taken in" by a gale while on their way northward and scattered in every direction, as we learn they have been found for hundreds of miles in each direction of the compass. Mr. Adams has to say of the bird above referred to: "These two birds appear to be something between a wild duck and a didapper. They do not fly, but walk and run uprightly on their legs, with web feet, which protrude not under, but as a continuation of the body. They were caught in the open woods, near a branch and swamp, secreting themselves when pursued — not in the swamp, but in brush, under logs, etc. One was seen to dive in a stump filled with water, and remained in the bottom until caught. They were found in pairs — male and females — very pugnacious, and the males attach each other when brought near together. They are very fat and tender, tasting somewhat like a summer duck, and not fishy. Their craws are filled with grass and grit. One of my tenants caught twenty-three of the birds, and reported that he saw many more."

April 15, 1877. A sweeping storm. Memphis Daily Appeal 36(89): 2. From the Americus Republican; originally issued in the Weekly Sumter Republican.

Canton, Mississippi - Terrific Rain and Wind-Storm

A terrific rain and wind-storm passed over this section the night of the 2d instant, blowing down trees, fences and some outhouses. Fortunately no harm was done to life. The storm came from a northeasterly direction, and lasted several hours. The next morning a large number of strange birds, some of them dead or wounded from being hurled against houses, trees and other obstacles, were found lying on the ground. Others, apparently uninjured, were captured. They certainly belong to the sea-fowl species, and resemble the penguin, though they are not so large. They are about the size of a common teal duck. They have a head like the game chicken, with a beak like the crow. their wings and legs are very short, and they have web feet. The feathers on their back and neck are dark green and black, while those on their breast are a brilliant, silvery gray. They have no tails, and many of them when found were sitting up erect or were walking or waddling slowly. Some of them, ostrich-like, tried to conceal themselves by burying their heads in the weeds or grass. None of them attempted to fly. As they are strangers to the ornithology of this locality, the supposition is they were caught up by the wind on the seacoast, miles away, and were wafted hitherward.

April 8, 1885. Memphis Daily Appeal 45(84): 2.

Spring Poem From 1844

By O.G. Spoons.
The robins are singing,
The grass is upspringing,
And May is bringing,
    'Mid sunshine and showers;
The belles are out airing,
Gay dresses they're wearing,
And the fields are preparing,
    To put forth their flowers;
The brooks are swift running,
The snakes are out sunning,
The boys are out gunning,
The fountains are spouting,
The anglers are trouting,
    Far off 'mid the hills.
Where the lambkins are prancing,
And the sunbeams are dancing
    On the bright sparkling rills;
The partridge is drumming
By the mountain side rude,
And the hornet is humming
His song in the wood;
The spider sits eyeing
The insect that's flying,
To catch him — the scamp!
The owlet is sleeping,
Whilst the bugs are a creeping,
And the frogs are a-peeping
    In yonder old swamp;
The streamlets are flooding,
The lilacs are budding,
And cloud-racks are scudding
Athwart the blue sky;
The cataract's roaring
While the waters are pouring,
And the hen hawk is soaring
    With the eagle on high;
The wild dove is wooing,
To his love he is cooing,
    (I hope he will win her,)
Bland breezes are blowing,
The cattle are lowing,
And I am now going
— — — — to dinner.
June 1, 1844. Miners' Journal and Pottsville General Advertiser 20(22): 4.

11 November 2013

A Day of Infamy for Bird-Window Collisions at Omaha

It is a day that will linger in infamy for its denoted occurrence.

On Monday morning, 11 September 2013, with gloomy gray skies, blustery winds and descending temperatures in front of chilling weather system, a bit of snuffed out life was found on a sidewalk in downtown Omaha.

A Dark-eyed Junco carcass was forlorn among the blowing winds, seemingly forgotten after dying upon hitting a glass window on the upper facade on the west side of the Omaha Public Power District Energy Plaza building.

Once discovered however, its demise will live on as the particular species found to represent the 500th day of recording bird-window collisions in eastern Omaha. This was just another example of the so many singular tragedies of a similar sort, but its fate is being recognized and will not be forgotten. The birds' feathers are unkempt looking, obviously results of being blown around on the sidewalk of a concrete jungle; though the colors and splendor are still representative!

Once documented, the life bit of birdness was placed in a natural setting to it could properly return to earth, rather than unceremoniously being ignored or worse, get thrown into a trash container.

08 November 2013

City Must do All Possible to Save Birds

My supportive letter in the Public Pulse. Omaha World-Herald 149(29): 6B.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal for a lighting schedule at the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge (Nov. 4 World-Herald) is a compromise regarding the reality of bird strikes in eastern Omaha. The spring and autumn periods suggested are associated with peaks of migrational movement along the Missouri River valley by a wonderful variety of species.

There are hundreds of bird strikes in the downtown environs every year. They can occur any day between early March through November, based upon my investigation of more than 500 dates since May 2008. Dead or disabled birds can be easily found.

City of Omaha officials should do everything possible to minimize hazards to migratory birds, especially due to lighting at the Kerrey bridge. The cityscape is already very dangerous to so many birds, and steps to reduce the tragic impacts should be made by public and private entities.

Avian Collisions - Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

This is a copy of the email sent by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Brook Bench, director of the Omaha Parks Recreation and Public Property department; a copy was also sent to the nongame biologist at the Nebraska Game and parks Commission. This letter was the basis for an article "Threat to migrating birds puts spotlight on Bob Kerrey bridge" by Nancy Gaarder that was in the Omaha World-Herald on November 4th. There are some supportive comments included with the online article.

"The purpose of this E-mail is to recommend a minor modification to the current lighting regime at the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge to minimize the risk of birds colliding with the lighted support cables and pylons during their spring and fall migrations. Protection of migratory birds is a priority to the Fish and Wildlife Service and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in Nebraska and we have worked with numerous organizations to find ways to avoid and minimize the risks posed to migratory birds in our state.

"As you are probably aware, the Missouri River provides an important migration corridor for birds in the spring and fall. Many of these birds migrate at night and rest during the day. Sources of light can attract migrating birds, especially if these lights are located along a flight pathway and are illuminated at a time when birds are looking to rest after a night of migration. We believe that this is the time when birds tend to collide with structures and are injured and killed. For this reason, we request that you consider the following modification to the current lighting at the Pedestrian Bridge.

"We request that you shut off the lights on the cables and the vertical pylons at 11:00 pm as is currently done. However, we request that the lights not be turned back on until sunrise during the spring and fall migrations only. Spring migration is from April 15-May 31 and fall migration is from September 1-October 31. Currently, it is our understanding that the lights are turned back on at 5:00 am year round. Path lighting should remained unchanged to ensure a safe environment for those using the bridge as should any lights associated with warning for aircraft or vessels as required by FAA and the Coast Guard, respectively.

"Our effort here is to try and be proactive and work with you on what appears to be a somewhat minor modification to the current lighting regime to protect birds as they migrate along the Missouri River. At this point, we are unaware of any birds that have collided with the lighted cables or pylons at the Pedestrian Bridge. It is likely, however, that collisions have occurred and dead and injured birds simply fall into the river and go undetected. As you are probably aware, the vast majority of migrating birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

"Thank you for your consideration and assistance in the protection of birds as they migrate through Nebraska. Please contact me if I can be of assistance to you on this matter or if you have any questions. Thanks."

Robert R. Harms
Fish and Wildlife Biologist
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
203 West Second Street
Grand Island, NE 68801

06 November 2013

November is Poetry Month

In recognition of the wonderful diversity of poetic expression about wildbirds, an expansive sampler of historic poetry is being presented this month as a special feature. Each poem distinctly represents a tidbit associated with bird history of the period between 1786 and 1885.

Each of the examples — conveyed in their entirety — were published in a newspaper issued during this one hundred year period — except for the contributions written by Alexander Wilson in the early 1800s, which certainly could not be excluded. Often, these prosaic examples were prominent atop a column of the front page, most often beneath a banner title of "Poetry" or less often, "Original Poetry" or "Select Poetry." Unique headlines also used were "Temple of the Muses" or "Poetic Recess" as well as "Literary." Typically these verses were presented atop the page, above the numerous other subjects of text spread about a paper's pages. It was a special feature, presented with particular attention.

More than 140 poems — including a few designated as sonnets — are included with this unique presentation. They are from across continental America, because poetry was a regular feature in so many newspapers.

The common theme is obviously wild birds of various sorts. Either the subject of the writing was entirely about birds or there was a particular mention of them. Examples include:

  • An oldtime poem of the latter 1700s refers to a captive paroquet, which was the common term used at the time for the Carolina Parakeet;
  • Tributes to the different seasons — especially the Spring and Autumn seasons — which often refer to notably prominent species singing in the meadow or woods or some other local place;
  • Personal perspectives on life and living, and other profound travails;
  • Stories told in verse, expressed as a personal perspective of a particular place or setting, including an depective indication of the birds and hunting at Long Island; and
  • Results of a vicious cat attacking a bird (the first instance in 1803), or a plea to not shoot the birds.
  • Tributes to particular species, especially some the well-known song birds of the east, including the bluebird, robin and bobolink.

In many instances the original author was not given, but when the actual author was indicated it only adds to the uniqueness of the prose.

Alice Cary can be recognized for having scribed four examples (including one about a captured bird being released by a young boy). Alfred B. Street and John G. Whittier both authored three. Professor Longfellow wrote poems which mentioned birds. Often only the initials were given, or at times just a pseudonym was used. In one instance, two editors were co-authors, with the headline indicating the verse was the result of "two voices."

There are certainly other poems issued during these years in sources other than newspapers. Poems were prominent in many publications.

Each of these examples wonderfully convey the overall variety of styles used during various years, and how different authors indicated their message in a manner that actively included birds as a prominent feature of their lines of verse. Overall, these unique depictions are worthy of further consideration in association with with any interest in historic ornithology, as well as bird poetry of these years. Indications of authorship could be opportunities to investigate any biographic details for the authors, and consider their particular location and any number of ancillary details.

Modern-era folks interested in poetic interpretation might compare poems of a similar subject from the 21st century to those written 225 to 125 years in the past.

Poems are terse capsules of thought that exquisitely convey common thoughts using the language practices of their time. How has the language changed.? The use of terms such as "dost" and then "doth." There are numerous examples where "thou" was essential portion of the word's flow. It is worthwhile considering words commonly used in the past which are now scarcely used on pages of any current newspaper or online news outlet. There were various uses of an apostrophe to abbreviate words, which might indicate a "shortcut" for a type-setter, or perhaps a norm of the times.

Most of prose presented came from either the Early American Newspapers site or Chronicling America, and found using a variety of search options. The term "poetry" was especially essential, since it was prominently indicated on the paper pages and indicative to an extent that it could be readily parsed by modern internet word-search methods and then presented among search results. A few other appropriate sites were searched, which yielded a few more items of pertinence. The primary hindrances to a thorough search are fee-based access and limitations on search options, for which there is no consistent methodology.

There is certainly other poetic prose available in other sources which were not searched. Additional newspaper issues digitally archived would undoubtedly indicate other worthy examples worthy of recognition due to their distinct presentation or other features that might convey their special significance.

Newspaper sources well-represented by their contributions include the Farmer's Cabinet, Highland Weekly News, New York Daily Tribune, Norwich Courier and Washington D.C. Evening Star. Especially interesting from the plains were some examples of original verse from Bellevue, Nebraska in 1857 and 1858, when a four-page newspaper was issued at this settlement on the west bank of the Missouri River, which — at the time — was near the edge of an expanding western frontier.

It is intriguing to think what other poetic treasures have been written and are among the newspaper chronicles! Any consideration of bird history henceforth should also consider this particularly and uniquely expressive manner of writing about wildbirds.


Each article included in this sampler was carefully and individually considered for its significance. Once it met a wandering criteria, a copy was printed, then it was transcribed with care and converted into a web-suitable format. This poetic prose provides a version that can be electronically searched and are presented as a group in a consistent format.

Any errors in transcription may have been due to a lack of legibility in the photocopy of the source material, or a transcription error. For the era around 1800, the typographic "f" used to indicate an "s" was changed. Other apparent and minor typographic errors were changed, since newspaper type-setters did make errors. Layout was standardized, and somewhat simplified due to the manner of presentation imposed by limitations in text formatting and presentation imposed by the website host. This is especially indicated by a variance in indentation, in comparison to the original, printed version.

To ensure an absolutely accurate version, any reader should refer to the primary source which is included in detail with each poem.

Poetry of 1786

The following humourous poetical note, was sent to Peter Bounetbeau, Esq. by a citizen, as a return of his negro property, &c., for the year 1786, agreeable to an ordinance of the [word not legible], the Corporation.

I W.L. ... do on you wait,
To give my name within the date,
A wife I have, and to be free —
I have a Negro called Money;
And if you further want to know
I have a paroquet also;
One cat I've got — and kittens three,
Which make up all my family.
August 25, 1786. Charleston Evening Gazette 2(342): 3.

Invitation to a Robin - A 1793 Poem

By Julia.
Come little flutterer, freely come,
No guile, no fraud inhabits here;
Dost thou not see the scatter'd crumb?
Dispel sweet bird, they causeless fear.
The grove is cheerless now and bare
And icy fetters bind the flood;
Come little Robin come and share
My lowly roof and simple food.
The winter tempests fiercely blow;
Dark, thick and morbid is the air;
The woods are cover'd deep with snow,
Thou wilt not find a shelter there.
Thou could'st not bear the stormy sky'
Stay here sweet warbler, be caress'd,
And let me view they jetty eye
And fondly kiss they ruby breast.
No wiry cage shall e'er confine
Thy downy plumes, of stop they song;
Fair liberty shall still be thine
To join at will the feather'd throng.
Stay but till wintry blasts are o'er
And spring again adorns the grove;
On freedom's wing thou then shalt soar,
To flow'ry plains, to mirth and love.
November 22, 1793. Massachusetts Mercury 2(42): 4. From the Columbian Gazetteer.

The Blue Bird - A 1798 Poem

By Cardenio. March, 1798.
Hail early bird, thou gentle songster, hail!
One of the foremost of the feather'd throng;
To bring the joyful news of winter past,
And nigh approach of joy inspiring spring,
Soon as Aurora smiles along the east,
And bluffing mounts the gold-bespangled sky;
Thy mating lay salutes my list'ning ear;
I hear the song salute the rising morn,
And warbling chant the grateful hymn of praise.
April 7, 1798. Carey's United States Recorder 1(33): 4.

The Two Red Breasts - An 1800 Poem

In fairy lands where trees could walk,
Where hills could dance and Robins talk,
A gallant Red Breast, chanc'd to stray,
Among the flowers of beauteous May,
As light he hopp'd, and peck'd the ground,
A female Red Breast, flutter'd round.
Her sparkling eye, of mildest fire,
Her motions form'd to move desire,
Her glowing breast, of brightest red,
Her graceful neck and rolling head,
Her yellow bill and breathing throat,
Her brownish back, and mellow note,
His little breast, with trembling fill'd,
And thro' his nerves, soft pleasure thrill'd,
He gaz'd and sigh'd, and sigh'd again,
Then sweetly sung his am'rous strain :
"Fairest of birds, as good as fair,
"No birds so charming wings the air!
"The mighty eagle, mounts the skies,
"And swift as wind, the pigeon flies,
"The dove delights, in pensive strains,
"And yellow birds, flit o'er the plains,
"But you, dear Red Breast, all excell,
"For none can sing or fly as well."
Her colours brighten'd, while he sung.
She caught the praises of his tongue.
While he exulting, flutt'd gay;
With bill in bill, they coo and play,
Then flew, enraptur'd to the grove,
And sung, all day the joys of love,
Now on the shrubs, with music rung;
Sitting, flying, chirping, wooing,
Flitting, hopping, billing, cooing,
Sportive, thus, they pass'd the day,
No bird so true and blest as they!
As blith one morn, they gaily sung,
And soft, and sweet, their voices rung,
Another Red Breast, Debonair,
With envious eyes, survey'd the pair.
He plum'd his quills, and clear'd his throat,
Each gallant art, each mellow note,
And sprightly grace, this Red Breast knew,
She sweetly sung, and swiftly flew.
Around the fair, he flew and sung,
Love and music, fir'd his tongue.
Her charms he told, with artful strain,
"How sweet, to love, and love again!
"Pleasure springs, from freely ranging,
"Highest rapture, flows from changing."
With list'ning ears she heard him sing,
With him she flew, on gayest wing,
And soon amid a Laurel's shade,
Forgot the vows, she once had made.
There they sung, in sweetest measure,
Toy'd and glanc'd, with amrous pleasure,
'Till nestling, on a dusky spray,
They sunk to rest, with sinking day.
But She no longer clos'd her eyes,
Than round, her injur'd lover flies,
With wings his eyes, he seems to hide,
And now, her faithless vows to chide;
Bleeding now, she sees him lying,
Wounded, flutt'ring, gasping, dying!
Distress'd, she starts, but wakes to woe,
Remorseful tears, begin to flow,
And soon, she spies the rising day,
And mournful, soon, she flies away;
Flies to seek, her injur'd lover,
Where in the grove, they us'd to hover,
But oh! before she found his nest,
With lead, a fowler pierc'd her breast.
Down she flutter'd, bleeding, dying,
On the ground behold her lying.
His name she moans, with dying breath,
Her faithless vows, laments in death;
"Oh, injur'd bird," she panting cry'd,
Then gasp'd and struggled, droop'd and died!
October 20, 1800. Oracle of Dauphin and Harrisburg Advertiser 8(51): 4. Selected Poetry feature.

Juvenile Sorrow - An 1803 Poem

As I wandered one morn through yon wood-covered valley,
To pluck the wild thyme and the blossoms of May;
I look'd round in vain for my sweet little Sally,
Whose innocent prattle enlivens the way.
At length on a stile, by a walnut-tree shaded,
I found her in tears — a dead bird in her lap —
The joy of her once smiling face was now faded,
While she throbbing related her cruel mishap.
"Alas!" she exclaimed, "see my little tame robin;
The naughty cat kill'd it!" — and then she caress'd
And kiss'd the poor victim, and, tenderly sobbing,
Let fall a few tears on its blood-sprinkled breast.
I sigh'd, as I said to myself, 'tis with reason
That sages declare all is sorrow below;
For even in childhood, delighfulest season,
How quickly is pleasure succeeded by woe!
Norwich Courier 8(4): 4. Issued December 14, 1803.

The Robin - An 1804 Poem

By Sophia.
Returning Spring has deck'd the glade,
With every blooming vernal flower
The feather'd songsters' cheerful notes,
Salute the heaven descending power.
A Robin perch'd on yonder spray,
In sounds melodious pour'd his song;
The pleasing note, from ev'ry branch
Was echoed by the tuneful throng.
But ah! too soon the bliss is past,
No more will thy voice supply :
A sportsman passing, hears the sound,
Levels his gun, and bids the die.
So bear, thou cruel, thoughtless man,
Nor dare to wound the tender breast,
Of that endearing, harmless bird,
Who shares with him the downy nest.
Her little heart will mourn his fate,
Will mourn the fate of him she lov'd;
And pity thee, whose harden'd mind,
Could see his life depart unmov'd.
Alas! sad pity pleads in vain,
His breast ne'er felt, its softening power;
He robs the innocent of life,
For the short pleasure of an hour.
Ye little warblers of the grove,
Whose notes sweet harmony dispense;
Attend around this humble shade,
And mourn the fate of innocence.
May 16, 1804. Norwich Courier 8(26): 4. From the Boston Weekly Magazine.

Season of Birds Conveyed in 1805 Poem

Selected Poetry. From the Providence Gazette.

As the season is now rapidly approaching, when the sportsmen will begin his depredations, you are requested to publish the following lines; and their object will be answered, if the life of a single robin should be preserved.

The birds had sung a morning psalm,
The music of the grove was mute,
All was silent, all was calm
As is the passing shadow's foot.
"The poet's eye, in frenzy," now
Roll'd giddily from tree to tree,
And caught from ev'ry tranquil bough
A deep and solemn reverie.
A strain of music soft and low,
And destitute of art,
Fell in a gentle lapse, lie snow,
And melted on his heart.
The poet turn'd, transported now,
And gaz'd upon the wood;
He look'd, and on a dancing bough
The sweet musician stood.
Her little nest was her beside,
Suspended in the air;
The Robin watch'd her callow pride
With all a mother's care.
Her plumage glitter'd in the sun;
While gazing on her nest,
The poet heard the sportman's gun.
And saw her bleeding breast.
Fain would he sing in numbers meet;
He faulters on the strings :
Ill-fated bird ! he saw the beat
The ground with bloody wings.
But still thy young remain'd alive:
He climb'd the nest to spy;
He counted, and he found them five,
And left them there to die.
May 1, 1805. Norwich Courier 9(24): 4.

The Robin - An 1805 Poem

By Rolla; Framingham, May 2, 1805.
Hark! 'tis the Robin, that sings on the spray;
How mournful the note! how solemn the lay!
How aptly it strikes the gloom of the hour,
While evening o'erspreads the listner's bower,
Hark, Emily, mark the languishing fall!
What sorrows of song her bosom inthrall!
She seems to regret, that Spring must depart,
Be rob'd of its charms, and I of my heart.
Alas, the repines that Winter is nigh,
To freeze with its cold the languishing sigh;
Alas, the regrets the frost it must bring
To chill with its blast the roses of Spring.
But O that fond look will rifle my heart,
And hear with its glance fair poetry's art;
The Robin had mourn'd the evening in vain,
Had not you, my love, assisted my strain.
Ah! then forbear the fatal smile,
And let me keep my heart a while.
June 3, 1805. Boston Independent Chronicle 37(2510): 4.

An 1806 Sonnet

Sweetly chanting carols wild,
Easy strains and quavers mild,
Clearly warbling from her throat,
Robin pour'd the tuneful note,
Perch'd upon a flexible spray,
Singing her short life away.
Fine the morn and fresh the air,
Sol arose resplendent, fair;
Cloudless was the azure sky,
Mantled in its bluest die;
Sportive scenes aerial,
Rul'd the eye imperial,
Floating on the balmy gale,
Hov'ring o'er the flow'ry vale.
Robin hail'd the cheering day,
Blushing with the charm of May;
Shone the sun-beam on her breast,
Which her rosy plumage drest;
Seem'd delighted with the view —
And delightful was she too;
Careless of the rushing breeze,
Blowing 'mong the rustling trees,
Waving to and fro the spray,
Whence arose the honied lay —
Robin fat contented, free,
Full of life and merry glee.
On a flow'r-bed where the dew
Spangled on the vi'let blue;
By a bank reclined I,
Where a riv'let girgled by,
Heard the mild and quiv'ring trill,
With the murm'rings of the rill;
With the little minstrel charm'd,
While the muse by bosom warm'd,
I beheld her transient bliss,
Sueing for her happiness,
Free from discontent and care
Never shedding sorrow's tear;
She no mis'ry ever knows,
Virtue in her bosom glows;
Her's a life free from pain,
Naught to loose, nor naught to gain.
Man has something to be gain'd,
Which by Virtue is obtain'd.
Then, thou Red-breast, trust a maid,
In thee I can confide;
In a life which sins degrade,
Be thou a moral guide.
Since my life depends on chance —
The past I can't retrieve —
By thy native innocence,
O teach me how to live.
Sonnet. August 2, 1806. Concord Gazette 1(4): 3. For the Concord Gazette.

To Spring - An 1807 Poem

Come gentle spring aetherial maid,
With nature's richest robes array'd,
On pleasure's pinions borne;
Descend upon our desert plains,
And joy will rise on grateful strains,
To greet thy lov'd return.
The robin resting on the spray,
Sings to the slow declining day,
To bring thy cheering smiles;
But morn returns with deepest gloom,
And not a flower in nature's bloom,
The listless eye beguiles.
O haste and clothe our barren fields
With the rich dress thy verdure yields,
And breathe the balmy gale,
Again enrobe the leafless grove,
The haunts of study and of love,
With music fill the vale.
On notes of grateful joy will rise,
Our hearts, an offering to the skies,
For thy long wish'd return.
May 14, 1807. Boston Independent Chronicle 39(2718): 4.

Bird Poems by Alexander Wilson

The American Blue-bird.

"Such are the mild and pleasing manners of the Blue-bird, and so universally is he esteemed, that I have often regretted that no pastoral Muse has yet risen, in this western woody world, to do justice to his name, and endear him to us still more, by the tenderness of verse, as has been done to his representative in Britain, the Robin Redbreast. A small acknowledgment of this kind I have to offer, which the reader I hope will excuse as a tribute to rural innocence."

When Winter's cold tempests and snows are no more,
Green meadows, and brown furrow'd fields reappearing
The fishermen hauling their shad to the shore,
And cloud-cleaving geese to the lakes are a-steering ;
When first the lone butterfly flits on the wing,
When red glow the maples, so fresh and so pleasin';
O then comes the Blue-bird, the herald of Spring,
And hails with his warblings the charms of the season.
Then loud-piping frogs make the marshes to ring,
Then warm glows the sunshine, and fine is the weather;
The blue woodland flowers just beginning to spring,
And spicewood and sassafras budding together;
O then to your gardens, ye housewives, repair.
Your walks border up, sow and plant at your leisure ;
The Blue-bird will chant from his box such an air,
That all your hard toils will seem truly a pleasure.
He flits thro' the orchard, he visits each tree,
The red flowering peach, and the apple's sweet blossoms ;
He snaps up destroyers wherever they be,
And seizes the caitiffs that lurk in their bosoms :
He draws the vile grub from the corn it devours,
The worms from their webs where they riot and welter
His song and his services freely are ours,
And all that he asks, is, in Summer a shelter.
The ploughman is pleas'd when he gleans in his train,
Now searching the furrows, now mounting to cheer him
The gard'ner delights in his sweet simple strain,
And leans on his spade to survey and to hear him;
The slow-ling'ring schoolboys forget they'll be chid,
While gazing intent as he warbles before 'em.
In mantle of sky-blue, and bosom so red.
That each little loiterer seems to adore him.
When all the gay scenes of the Summer are o'er,
And Autumn slow enters so silent and sallow ;
And millions of warblers, that charm'd us before.
Have fled in the train of the sun-seeking swallow ;
The Blue-bird, forsaken, yet true to his home,
Still lingers, and looks for a milder to-morrow ;
Till forc'd by the horrors of Winter to roam,
He sings his adieu in a lone note of sorrow.
While Spring's lovely season, serene, dewy, warm.
The green face of Earth and the pure blue of heaven
Or Love's native music have influence to charm.
Or Sympathy's glow to our feelings are given —
Still dear to each bosom the Blue-bird shall be ;
His voice, like the thrillings of hope, is a treasure ;
For, thro' bleakest storms, if a calm he but see,
He comes to remind us of sunshine and pleasure.

The Humming-bird.

"The Humming Bird is one of the few that are universally beloved; and, amid the sweet dewy serenity of a Summer's morning, his appearance among the arbours of honey-suckle and beds of flowers, is truly interesting."

When morning dawns, and the blest sun again
Lifts his red glories from the eastern main;
Then thro' our woodbines, wet with glittering dews
The flower-fed Humming-Bird his round pursues;
Sips with inserted tube the honeyed blooms,
And chirps his gratitude as round he roams;
While richest roses, tho' in crimson drest.
Shrink from the splendour of his gorgeous breast;
What heav'nly tints in mingling radiance fly
Each rapid movement gives a different dye;
Like scales of burnish'd gold they dazzling show,
Now sink to shade, now like a furnace glow.

The Baltimore Bird.

"The Baltimore inhabits North America, from Canada to Mexico, and is even found as far south as Brazil. Since the streets of our cities have been planted with that beautiful and stately tree, the Lombardy poplar, these birds are our constant visitors during the early part of Summer; and, amid the noise and tumult of coaches, drays, wheelbarrows, and the din of the multitude, they are heard chanting 'their native wood-notes wild;' sometimes too within a few yards of an oysterman, who stands bellowing with the lungs of a Stentor, under the shade of the same tree; so much will habit reconcile even birds to the roar of the city and to sounds and noises, that in other circumstances, would put a whole grove of them to flight.

High on yon poplar, clad in glossiest green,
The orange, black-capp'd Baltimore is seen;
The broad-extended boughs still please him best,
Beneath their bending skirts he hangs his nest;
There his sweet mate, secure from every harm.
Broods o'er her spotted store, and wraps them warm ;
Lists to the noon-tide hum of busy bees.
Her partner's mellow song, the brook, the breeze ;
These day by day the lonely hours deceive.
From dewy morn, to slow-descending eve.
Two weeks elaps'd, behold a helpless crew!
Claim all her care, and her affection too;
On wings of love th' assiduous nurses fly,
Flowers, leaves, and boughs, abundant food supply;
Glad chants their guardian, as abroad he goes.
And waving breezes rock them to repose.

The Fish-Hawk, or Osprey.

"The regular arrival of this noted bird at the vernal equinox, when the busy season of fishing commences, adds peculiar interest to its first appearance, and procures it many a benediction from the fishermen. With the following lines, illustrative of these circumstances, I shall conclude its history " : —

Soon as the sun, great ruler of the year,
Bends to our northern clime his bright career,
And from the caves of ocean calls from sleep
The finny shoals and myriads of the deep;
When freezing tempests back to Greenland ride,
And day and night the equal hours divide;
True to the season, o'er our sea-beat shore,
The sailing osprey high is seen to soar,
With broad unmoving wing, and circling slow,
Marks each loose straggler in the deep below ;
Sweeps down like lightning ! plunges with a roar!
And bears his struggling victim to the shore.
The long-housed fisherman beholds with joy,
The well known signals of his rough employ ;
And as he bears his nets and oars along,
Thus hails the welcome season with a song :

The Fisherman's Hymn

The osprey sails above the Sound,
The geese are gone, the gulls are flying;
The herring shoals swarm thick around.
The nets are launched, the boats are plying.
Yo ho, my hearts ! let's seek the deep.
Raise high the song and cheerly wish her;
Still as the bending net we sweep,
'God bless the fish-hawk and the fisher!'
She brings us fish — she brings us Spring,
Good times, fair weather, warmth and plenty;
Fine store of shad, trout, herring, ling,
Sheeps-head and drum, and old wives' dainty.
Yo ho, my hearts ! let's seek the deep.
Ply every oar, and cheerly wish her,
Still as the bending net we sweep,
'God bless the fish-hawk and the fisher!'
She rears her young on yonder tree.
She leaves her faithful mate to mind 'em;
Like us, for fish she sails the sea,
And, plunging, shows us where to find 'em.
Yo ho, my hearts ! let's seek the deep,
Ply every oar, and cheerly wish her,
While slow the bending net we sweep,
'God bless the fish-hawk and the fisher!'

The Tyrant Fly-catcher, or King Bird.

"Great prejudices are entertained against this little bird; I, however, honour him for his extreme affection for his young; for his contempt of danger, and unexampled intrepidity; for his meekness of behaviour when there are no calls upon his courage; but, above all, for the millions of ruinous vermin of which he rids us! As a friend to this persecuted bird, and an enemy to prejudices of every description, will the reader allow me to set this matter in a somewhat clearer and stronger light, by presenting him with a short poetical epitome of the King-bird's history."

Far in the south, where vast Maragnon flows,
And boundless forests unknown wilds enclose.
Vine-tangled shores and suffocating woods,
Parched up with heat, or drown'd with pouring floods;
Where each extreme alternately prevails,
And nature, sad, the ravages bewails ;
Lo! high in air, above those trackless wastes.
With Spring's return, the King-bird hither hastes.
Coasts the famed Gulf, and from his height explores
Its thousand streams, its long indented shores,
Its plains immense, wide op'ning on the day,
Its lakes and isles where feathered millions play.
All tempt not him; till, gazing from on high,
Columbia's regions wide below him lie;
There end his wanderings and his wish to roam.
There lie his native woods, his fields, his home;
Down, circling, he descends from azure heights,
And on a full blown sassafras alights.
Fatigued and silent, for a while he views
His old frequented haunts, and shades recluse,
Sees brothers, comrades, every hour arrive,
Hears humming round the tenants of the hive;
Love fires his breast, he wooes, and soon is blest,
And in the blooming orchard builds his nest.
Come now, ye cowards! ye whom Heaven disdains,
Who boast the happiest home, the richest plains;
On whom, perchance, a wife, an infant's eye,
Hang as their hope, and on your arm rely.
Yet, when the hour of danger and dismay
Comes on that country, sneak in holes away,
Shrink from the perils ye were bound to face.
And leave these babes and country to disgrace;
Come here, (if such we have) ye dastard herd !
And kneel in dust before this noble bird.
When the specked eggs within his nest appear.
Then glows affection, ardent and sincere;
No discord sours him when his mate he meets.
But each warm heart with mutual kindness beats;
For her repast he bears along the lea
The bloated gad-fly and the balmy bee;
For her repose scours o'er th' adjacent farm,
Whence hawks might dart, or lurking foes alarm, —
For now abroad a band of ruffians prey.
The crow, the cuckoo, and th' insiduous jay;
These, in the owner's absence, all destroy.
And murder every hope, and every joy.
Soft sits his brooding mate, her guardian he,
Perched on the top of some tall neighb'ring tree;
Thence, from the thicket to the concave skies,
His watchful eye around unceasing flies.
Wrens, thrushes, warblers, startled at his note,
Fly in affright the consecrated spot;
He drives the plundering jay, with honest scorn
Back to the woods — the mocker to his thorn ;
Sweeps round the cuckoo, as the thief retreats,
Attacks the crow, the diving hawk defeats,
Darts on the eagle downwards from afar,
And 'midst the clouds, prolongs the whirling war.
All danger o'er, he hastens back elate,
To guard his post, and feed his faithful mate.
Behold him now, his little family flown.
Meek, unassuming, silent, and alone.
Lured by the well-known hum of favourite bees,
As slow he hovers o'er the garden trees;
(For all have failings, passions, whims, that lead
Some favourite wish, some appetite to feed : )
Straight he alights, and from the pear-tree spies
The circling stream of humming insects rise;
Selects his prey, darts on the busy brood,
And shrilly twitters o'er his savoury food.
Ah, ill-timed triumph ! direful note to thee,
That guides thy murderer to the fatal tree;
See where he skulks, and takes his gloomy stand.
The deep-charged musket hanging in his hand.
And, gaunt for blood, he leans it on a rest.
Prepared and pointed at thy snow-white breast.
Ah ! friend, good friend, forbear that barb'rous deed.
Against it, valour, goodness, pity plead;
If ere a family's griefs, a widow's woe
Have reached thy soul, in mercy let him go ! 80
Yet should the tear of pity nought avail;
Let interest speak, let gratitude prevail;
Kill not thy friend, who thy whole harvest shields,
And sweeps ten thousand vermin from thy fields.
Think how this dauntless bird, thy poultry's guard)
Drove ev'ry hawk and eagle from thy yard;
Watch'd round thy cattle as they fed, and slew
The hungry, black'ning swarms that round them flew;
Some small return, some little right resign,
And spare his life whose services are thine!
— I plead in vain ! amid the bursting roar
The poor, lost King-bird, welters in his gore.
Rev. Alexander B. Grosart. 1876. The poems and literary prose of Alexander Wilson, the American ornithologist. Paisley : Alex Gardner. 433 pages.

Sonnet - An 1809 Poem

By J. For the Boston Mirror.
If time should e'er bleach my old pate,
And shrivel these cheeks with his blast;
And I like a pigeon bereft of its mate,
Am doom'd my old friend to outlast :
When youthful companions are gone,
And new faces fill up the space;
And, with the scenes of this life being done,
Am just about ending its race :
One friend, O kind providence grant,
To cheer the lone hours as they glide,
To comfort my spirits, alleviate each want,
And in whom I my thoughts may confide.
Life's cares and its sorrows might then be defied —
O! let not the boon be denied!
April 8, 1809. Boston Mirror 1(25): 4.

American Poetry 1809

Ezra Darby, Esq. was a member of congress from New Jersey, and died at Washington a few months after the following was written. He was an uneducated, or rather a self educated, young man of the most amiable character and manners. — Freeman's Journal

Poetical Epistle.

From Washington City, January 16, 1806.
The winds sweeping over the hills,
With winter incessantly blow :
Ice binds up the rivers and rill;
Earth whitens her surface with snow.
The mildness of summer and spring,
And autumn's rich fruitage are gone;
The birds have forgotten to sing,
The flocks have deserted the lawn.
Far, far from the place of my birth,
The plait where my morning was past,
That beautiful section of earth,
Where fortune my residence cast;
From friends and from home far away,
With half of myself left behind,
My heart beats in time while I say
The season accords with my mind.
By fashion, or folly, or fame,
Or some other phantom assail'd,
Perhaps in pursuit of a name,
Tho' thousands far batter have fail'd :
I laid by my team and my plough,
Forsook the sweet cottage of love,
And came, before great men to bow,
A clod-hopper statesmen to prove.
Surrounded by men of all minds,
All colors the earth can produce,
With all sorts of bodies and minds,
And fitted to all sorts of use;
Compelled in some squabbles to share,
To battle along with the rest,
My thoughts are all ruffled with care,
And heaviness presses my breast.
I sigh for that silent repose
Which home, and home only, provides;
Those scenes unencumbered with woes,
Where soothing contentment presides;
Where peace builds her nest with delight,
Domestic endearments appear,
Where hearts can in rapture unite,
And happiness winds off the year.
Alas! am I here to remain,
And count the dull minutes away,
Till winter shall wear out his reign,
And nature begin to look gay;
Till the foliage shall cover the trees,
The blue bird be seen on the wing;
Till fragrance shall float on the breeze,
And perhaps till the whippoorwill sing?
Then hasten your tardy career,
Ye moments! forget your delay;
Let spring in her verdure appear,
Bring forward the beauty of May,
Let me catch the full note of the grove,
Take the earliest Zepher that blows,
To fly to the bosom of love,
And rest in ecstatic repose.
November 8, 1809. American Eagle 3(149): 1. A few word spellings have been corrected and changed to indicate the letter s instead of the letter f.

The Robin Red-Breast and the Cat

By Ewan Clarke.
One morn, when snows bestrew'd the ground,
And frost each pool in fetters bound,
A Robin pinch'd through hungers power,
Made free t'approach a farmer's door,
Nor bolts, nor bars his entrance stop'd;
The door was open...in he hopp'd...
He star'd around with vast surprise,
The scene was new in Robin's eyes.
He duck'd his head as who should say,
God bless you, folks! this frosty day;
Now bolder grown, he hopp'd around,
And pick'd the crumbs from off the ground,
His little crop soon fill'd with meat
Kind Jenny crumbled as he eat.
"Blest chance to lead me (Robin said)
To where I'm warmed, to where I'm fed,
May ne'er mischance this house molest,
And may that kind be doubly blest,
May pains, and sickness cease t'intrude,"
The chirp'd a song of gratitude.
Grimalkin heard the tempering air,
And sly crept from beneath a chair;
He lick'd his whiskers, fixed his eyes,
And sprung upon his flutt'ring prize.
Ah me ... ah me, what woes betide,
Spare .. spare my life, poor Robin cry'd,
Show mercy as thoud'dst mercy find,
I ne'er harm'd Cat or Kitten kind.
Let man's example by thy guide,
Fool, so it is ... the Cat reply'd,
Look around, and thou shalt view each day,
Man making man his eager prey.
The helpless, harmless, rest assur'd,
Ne'er fail, like thee, to be devour'd.
Thus spoke the Cat, with visage grim,
Then tore the trembler limb from limb.
May 13, 1812. Norwich Courier 16(27): 4.

The Robin - An 1815 Poem

By Albert. For the Northern Sentinel.

A few morning since, a robin perched upon a tree where hung the cage of another. They sang alternately the most touching strains. This affecting appeal to the heart gave birth to the following effusions.

Above the cage where pin'd his mate
The robin sung his plaintive lays,
While she approach'd the wiry grate
And join'd the dirge of happier days.
An I blest art thou, sweet music's child,
Who oft can flutter round your fair,
And worble strains so soft and sweet
They lead a captive, wan despair.
But where yon lilac lifts its head
And mingles fragrance with the gale,
There is my Emma's turfy bed
Where eve oft lists my hopeless tale.
Hopeless? ah no! the healing balm
Bland hope diffuses o'er my breast,
Pitying, she bids my heart, "be calm,
For soon its throbbing pulse shall rest."
Yes, I will hope, for 'mong the shades.
When life is o'er, I'll seek my love,
Again I'll clasp the sainted maid,
And claim her in the land above.
May 8, 1815. Burlington Northern Sentinel 5(18): 4.

Welcome Sweet Robins - An 1824 Poetic Expression

Mr. Beck — Last fall a Robin entangled his legs with a thread, caught the branches of a tree in front of my house, where it was impossible to extricate him. He lingered a few hours and died. This spring, the ancient nest was re-occupied by (probably) the descendants of the unfortunate bird; and the following lines were written (but mislaid) by your humble servant, Doctor Gunter.

Welcome sweet Robins to your tree;
I hear your morning minstrelsy
With the first dawn of spring;
With extasy enjoy your notes,
And watch your little swelling throats
As you melodious sing.
Welcome sweet Robin back again,
Relate where you so long have been
And how the winter pass'd :
Have you the elements withstood
In caves with Madam Solitude
And safe return'd at last?
Welcome sweet Robin to your home,
For ev'ry note, I'll throw a crumb —
Thrice welcome to the tree,
Which long your ancestors possess'd
Repair, and occupy their nest
And live in harmony.
Welcome sweet Robin, play and sing,
Be guarded that the fatal string
Which caught your sire last year,
Shall not around your legs entwine,
Suspend you on the Elm or Pine
And draw the unconscious tear.
June 22, 1824. New Hampshire Gazette 69(31): 4. Poetry feature. For the New Hampshire Gazette.

A Ballad of Winter - An 1827 Poem

By Boston Bard.
Loud blows the winds, with blustering breath,
And snows fall cold upon the heath,
And hill and vale look drear :
The torrents foam with headlong roar,
And trees their chilly load deplore,
And drop the icy tear.
The little birds with wishful eye
For alms unto my cottage fly,
Since they can boast no hoard;
Sharp in mine house the pilgrims peep,
But Robin will not distance keep,
So percheth on my board.
Come in ye little minstrels sweet,
And from your feathers shake the sleet,
And warm your freezing blood :
No cat shall touch a single plume,
Come in sweet choir — nay fill my room,
And take of grain a treat;
Then flicker gay about my beams
And hop and do what pleasant seems,
And be a joyful throng,
'Till spring may clothe the naked grove;
Then go and build your nests — and love,
And thank me with a song.
January 17, 1827. Norwich Courier 5(42): 4.

The Traveler's Return - An 1827 Poem

By J.H.B.
I stood upon a pleasant hill, with summer verdure crowned,
And tall old trees, the giant kings of nature, stood around;
A lovely vale before me lay, and on the golden air,
Crept the blue smokes in quiet trains from roof's that clustered there.
I saw where in my early years I passed the pleasant hours,
Beside the winding brook that still went prattling to its flowers;
And still around my parent's home the slender poplars grew,
Whose glossy leaves were swayed and turned by every wind that blew.
The clover, with its heavy bloom, was tossing in the gale,
And the tall crowfoot's golden stars, still sprinkled all the vale,
And the fragrant bloom of orchard ground, and woodland foliage nigh,
Broke with their freshest beauty yet, upon the startled eye.
The wild vine, in the woody glen, swung o'er the sounding brook,
And the red robin and the wren chirped gaily in their nook;
I saw the clouds on crimson wings float softly through the sky,
When evening's blush came o'er the hills where beechen forests lie.
All there are what they were when last these pleasant hills I ranged,
But the faces that I knew before, by time and toll are changed,
Where youth and bloom were on the cheek, and gladness on the brow,
I only see the marks of care, and pain, and sorrow now.
September 15, 1827. Providence Patriot and Columbian Phenix 25(74): 1. From the U.S. Review and Literary Gazette.

To the Mocking Bird - An 1828 Poem

Bird of the wild and wond'rous song!
I hear they rich and varied voice,
Swelling the greenwood depths among
Till gloom and silence pleased rejoice!
Spell bound, entranced in rapture's chain
We list to that inspiring strain!
We tread the forest's tangled maze,
The thousand choristers to see,
Who mingled thus their voices raise,
In that ecstatic minstrelsy!
We search in vain each pause between,
The choral band is still unseen.
'Tis but the music of a dream,
Such as doth oft our slumbers cheer;
But hark again! the eagle's scream!
It rose and fell distinct and clear!
And list, in yonder hawthorn bush,
The red bird, robin, and the thrush!
Lost in amaze we look around,
Nor thrush nor eagle there behold!
But still that rich aerial sound,
Like some forgotten song of old,
That o'er the heart hath held control,
Falls sweetly on the ravish'd soul.
And yet the woods are vocal still,
The air is redolent with song --
Up the hill side, above the rill,
The wild'ring sounds are borne along!
But where, ye viewless minstrels! where
Dwell ye? on earth or upper air?
High on a solitary bough,
With glancing wings and restless feet,
Bird of untiring throat are thou,
Sole songster in this concert sweet!
So perfect, full and rich, each part,
It mocks the highest reach of art.
Once more, one more, that thrilling strain!
I'll-omened owl, be mute, be mute!
Thy native notes I hear again!
More sweet than harp or lover's lute!
Compared with thy impassioned tale,
How cold, how tame, the nightingale!
Alas! capricious is thy power,
Thy 'wood-note wild' again is fled;
The mimic rules, the changeful hour,
And all the 'soul of song' is dead!
But no! to every borrow'd tone,
He lends a sweetness all his own.
On glittering wing erect and bright,
With arrowy speed he darts aloft,
As though his soul had ta'en its flight,
In that last strain so sad and soft.
And he would call it back to life,
To mingle in the mimic strife.
And aye to every fitful lay,
His frame in restless motion wheels,
As though he would indeed essay,
To set the ecstasy he feels;
As though his very feet kept time,
To that inimitable chime.
And ever, as the rising moon
Lifts her bright orb the trees above,
he chants his most melodious tune
While echo wakes through all the grove,
Perch'd on the topmost bough he sings,
Till all the forest loudly rings!
The sleeper from his couch starts up
To listen to that lay forlorn,
And he who quaffs the midnight cup,
Looks out to see the purpling morn.
O! ever in the merry spring,
Sweet mimic let me hear thee sing!
November 7, 1828. Portland Eastern Argus 5(428): 1. From the Atlantic Souvenir.

The Western Emigrant - An Appreciated 1832 Poem

The following Prize Poem is from the pen of Mrs. Sigourney. It deserves to rank with the most finished specimens that have emanated from the same gifted source.

Amid those frest shades that proudly rear'd
Their unshorn beauty toward the favoring skies,
An axe rang sharply, There, with vigorous arm
Wrought a bold emigrant, while by his side
His little son with question and response
Beguiled the toil.
By, thou hast never seen
Such glorious trees and when their giant trunks
Fall, how the firm earth groans. Rememberest thou
The mighty river on whose breast we sail'd
So many days on towards the setting sun?
Compared to that, our own Connecticut
Is but a creeping stream."
"Father, the brook,
That by our door went singing, when I launch'd
My tiny boat with all the sportive boys,
When school was o'er, is dearer far to me
Than all these deep broad waters. To my eye
They are as strangers. And those little trees
My mother planted in the garden bound
Of our first home, from whence the fragrant peach
Fell in its ripening gold, were fairer sure
Then this dark forest shutting out the day."
"What, ho! my little girl," — and with light step
A fairy creature hasted toward her sire,
And setting down the basket that contain'd
The noon's repast, look'd upward to his face
With sweet, confiding smile.
"See, dearest, see
Yon bright-winged paroquet, and hear the song
Of the gay red-bird echoing through the trees,
Making rich music. Did'st thou ever hear
In far New England such a mellow tone?"
"I had a robin that did take the crumbs
Each night, and morning, and his chirping voice
Did make me joyful, as I went to tend
My snow-drops. I was always laughing there,
In that first home. I should be happier now
Methinks, if I could find among these dells
The same fresh violets,"
Slow Night drew on,
And round the rude hut of the Emigrant,
The wrathful spirit of the autumn storm
Spake bitter things. His wearied children slept,
And he, with head declin'd sat listening long
To the swoln waters of the Illinois,
Dashing against their shores. Starting he spake —
"Wife I — did I see thee brush away a tear? —
Say, was it so? — Thy heart was with the halls
Of they nativity. Their sparkling lights,
Carpets and sofas, and admiring guests,
Befit thee better than these rugged walls
Of shapeless logs, and this lone hermit home."
"No — no! — All was so still around, methought,
Upon my ear that echoed hymn did steal
Which mid the church where erst we paid our vows
So tuneful peal'd. But tenderly thy voice
Dissolv'd the illusion :" — and the gentle smile
Lighting her brow, — the fond caress that sooth'd
Her waking infant, re-assured his soul
That wheresoe'er the pure affections dwell
And strike a healthful root, is happiness.
Placid and grateful, to his rest he sunk, —
But dreams, those wild magicians, which do play
Such pranks when Reason slumbers, tireless wrought
Their will with him. Up rose the busy mart
Of his own native city, — roof and spire
All glittering bright, in Fancy's frost-work lay.
Forth came remember'd forms — with curving neck
The steed his boyhood nurtur'd, probably neigh'd —
The favorite dog, exulting round his feet
Frisk'd, with shrill, joyous bark — familiar doors
Flew open — greeting hands with his were link'd
In Friendship's grasp — he heard the keen debate
From congregated haunts, where mind with mind
Doth blend and brighten — and till morning rc'vd
'Mid the lov'd scenery of his father-land.
February 29, 1832. Norwich Courier 10(49): 4. From the Albany Literary Gazette. Also issued in other newspapers.

Spring - An 1832 Seasonal Poem

By James Ayton.
"'Tis now the season when the earth upsprings
From Slumber; as a sphered angel's child,
Shadowing its eyes with green and golden wings."


Welcome, heaven descended power!
Whose spell the earth surroundeth;
My heart attests the genial hour —
Like a wave it boundeth!
Bride-maid of the earth and sky!
That meet with fond caresses,
Virgin of the radiant eye,
And dew-besprinkled tresses!
Pleasures numberless and dear
TO the world thou bringest, —
On the dead season's gloomy bier,
Fairest flowers thou flingest.
Thou causest o'er the sleeping earth
A still, but mighty stir —
A starting into life — a birth
From its cold sepulchre.
Sweetest of blooms by night dews wet,
Or courted by the gale,
The lily and the violet
Are opening in the vale.
To light and glorious life upsprings
The beauty hid in gloom;
The butterfly leaves on bright wings
His antenatal tomb!
The waterfalls are 'mong the bills,
The winds have gone to play;
And hid by leaves, the murmuring rills
Wind joyously away.
In the brook the trout is leaping,
O'er the tiny pebble falls —
The blue bird sings on the willow weeping
By the old garden walls.
Gentle Spring! what power of gladness,
Disembodied, round thee keeps,
Still to kiss the tear of sadness
From the eye of him who weeps!
And to teach his heart communion
With the winds and babbling springs,
'Till his spirit feels a union
With the earth's insensate things :
"Till mute thoughts his thanks expressing
In a flood his bosom move,
To the Power who gives the blessing,
To the source of life and love.
May 1, 1832. Salem Gazette 10(35): 4.

Spring is Coming - An 1837 Poem

By James Nack.
Spring is coming, spring is coming,
Birds are chirping, insects humming;
Flowers are peeping from their sleeping,
Streams escaped from winter's keeping,
In delighted freedom rushing,
Dance along in music gushing;
Scenes of late in deadness saddened,
Smile in animation gladdened;
All is beauty, all is mirth,
All is glory upon earth!
Shout we, then, with nature's voice,
Welcome spring! rejoice! rejoice!
Spring is coming; come, my brother,
Let us rove with one another,
To our well remembered wild-wood,
Flourishing in nature's childhood;
Where a thousand flowers are springing,
And a thousand birds are singing;
Where the golden sunbeams quiver
On the verdure girdled river;
Let our youth of feeling out
To the youth of nature shout,
While the waves repeat our voice,
Welcome spring! rejoice! rejoice!
May 13, 1837. Columbia Democrat 1(3): 1.

The Snow-bird - An 1841 Poem

From distant climes, which none can tell,
In dress of bright and changeful hue,
I greet the bird beloved so well,
When childhood's hours around me flew.
Sure, though the northern storms may spend
Their fury over field and tree,
Their blasts are welcome, if they send
So gay a visitant as thee.
I care not that the laughing Spring
Its blue-bird messenger may own;
If winter be but sure to bring
The Snow-bird I have always known.
How oft, in childhood's rainbow hours,
I've watch'd thee at the window pane,
Hiding thee from the ruthless showers,
Till vernal airs shall breathe again!
Oh! how my youthful eyes would strain,
Pursuing in my wayward track!
How oft I've spread the attractive grain
To bring thy wandering pinions back!
Yes, gentle bird! I mind the time
Thou'st sported round my window-seat,
(Thoughtless of evil, as of crime,)
Pleased, it would seem, my face to greet, —
And feeding with confiding stay,
On tiny crumbs I threw to thee. —
"Twere base, twere cruel, to betray
A bird that ne'er had injured me.
There breathes an everlasting Power,
Unknown, but felt — unseen, but heard;
He clothes each tree, he tints each flower;
His arm protects my darling bird.
Let winter come with stormy voice;
Let snow-wreaths crown the highest hill;
He bids thee in the storm rejoice,
He sees, protects, and feeds thee still.
January 15, 1841. Stroudsburg Jeffersonian Republican 1(49): 1. Poetry feature on the front-page.

The Blue Bird - An 1841 Poem

By David Paul Brown.
O, do you hear the Blue Bird,
The herald of the spring —
How cheerily he tunes his pipe,
How blithely plumes his wing!
He breathes the native note of praise
To the great Source of Good,
The trees are vocal with his lays,
Instinct with gratitude.
He mounts upon the downy wing,
He cleaves the ambient air,
Inhales the balmy breath of spring,
And wakes the world to prayer.
The fertile Earth at nature's voice,
Unlocks her precious store,
And mount and vale and plain rejoice,
And greet the genial hour.
The purling stream no longer bound,
In winter's icy chain,
Sparkles beneath the sunny ray,
And freely flows again :
Flows — as life flows, in fancy,
Pure, radiant and serene,
Through flow'rs and fields and fragrant groves,
That animate the scene :
Flows on, till winter checks its tide,
And robs it of its bloom,
Like death, that in our youthful pride,
Consigns us to the tomb.
Yet man, for whom these notes are sung,
For whom these waters flow,
For whom this vernal wealth abounds,
The monarch here below!
Man, only man! with lofty brow,
With stubborn heart and knee,
Looks o'er this smiling universe,
Ungrateful, Lord, to thee.
The perils of the winter past —
Spring, like a blossoming bride,
The summer's and the autumn's hope,
All magnify his pride!
There — there he stands — a rebel still,
A recent to that Power,
That murmurs in each limpid rill,
And breaches in every flower.
April 13, 1841. Winyah Observer 1(8): 4.

A Forest Nook - An 1841 Poem

By Alfred B. Street. Albany, July, 1841. From the Northern Light.
A nook within the forest; overhead
The branches arch, and shape a pleasant bower,
Breaking white cloud, blue sky and sunshine bright
Into pure ivory and sapphire spots
And flecks of gold; a soft cool emerald tint
Colors the air, as though the delicate leaves
Emitted self-born light. What splendid walls,
And what a gorgeous roof carved by the hand
Of glorious Nature! Here the spruce thrusts in
Its bristling plume tipped with its pale-green points,
The hemlock shows its borders freshly fringed,
The smoothly scallop'd beech-leaf, and the birch
Cut into ragged edges, interlace.
While here and there, thro' clefts, the laurel hangs
Its gorgeous chalices half brimm'd with dew,
As though to hoard it for the haunting elves
The moonlight calls to this their festal hall.
A thick rich grassy carpet clothes the earth
Sprinkled with autumn leaves. The fern displays
Its fluted wreath beaded beneath with drops
Of richest brown; the wild-rose spreads its breast
Of delicate pink, and the overhanging fir
Has dropped its dark long cone.
The scorching glare
Without, makes this green nest a grateful haunt
For summer's radiant things; the butterfly
Fluttering within and nesting on some flower
Fans his rich velvet form; the toiling bee
Shoots by, with sounding hum and mist-like wings;
The robin perches on the bending spray
With shrill quick chirp; and like a flake of fire
The red-bird seeks the shelter of the leaves
And now and then a flutter overhead
In the thick green betrays some wandering wing
Coming and going, yet concealed from sight.
A shrill loud outcry — on yon highest bough
Sits the grey-squirrel in his burlesque-wrath
Stamping and chattering fiercely : now he drops
A hoarded nut, then at my smiling gaze
Buries himself within the foliage.
The insect tribes are here : the ant toils on
With his grain burthen; in his netted web
Gray glistening o'er the bush, the spider lurks
A close-crouch'd ball, out darting as a hum
Tells his trapp'd prey, and looping quick his threads
Chains into helplessness the bussing wings.
The wood-tick taps his tiny muffled drum
To the shrill cricket-fife, and swelling loud,
The grasshopper his grating bugle winds.
Those breaths of Nature, the light fluttering airs
Like gentle respirations, come and go,
Lift on its crimson stem the maple leaf
Displaying its white lining underneath,
And sprinkle from the tree-tops golden rain
Of sunshine on the velvet sward below.
Such nooks as this are common in the woods,
And all these sights and sounds the commonest
In Nature when she wears her summer prime.
Yet by them pass not lightly : to the wise
They tell the beauty and harmony
Of e'en the lowliest things that God hath made.
That this familiar earth and sky are full
Of his ineffable Power and majesty.
That in the humble objects, see too oft
To be regarded, is such wondrous grace,
The art of man is vain to imitate.
That the low flower our careless foot treads down
Is a rich shrine of incense delicate,
And radiant beauty, and that God hath form'd
All, from the mountain wreathing round its brow
The black ears of thunder, to the grain
Of silver sand bubbling spring casts up,
With deepest forethought and severest care.
And thus these noteless lowly things are types
Of His perfection and divinity.
August 5, 1841. Pittsfield Sun 41(2133): 1.

Love and Friendship - An 1841 Poem

By Wm. Leggett.
The birds, when winter shades the sky,
Fly o'er the seas away,
Where laughing isles in sunshine lie,
And summer breezes play :
And thus the friends that flutter near
While fortune's sun is warm,
Are startled if a cloud appear,
And fly before the storm.
But when from winter's howling plains
Each other warbles past,
The little snow bird still remains,
And cherups midst the blast.
Love, like that bird, when friendship's throng
With fortunes sun depart,
Still lingers with its cheerful song,
And nestles on the heart.
August 10, 1841. Mecklenburg Jeffersonian 1(23): 4.

Happiness - An 1842 Poem

By Bishop Heber.
One morning in the month of May,
I wandered o'er the hill;
Though nature all around was gay
My hear was heavy still.
Can God I thought, the just, the great,
These meaner creatures bless,
And yet deny to man's estate
The boon of happiness?
Tell me ye woods, ye smiling plains,
Ye blessed birds around,
In which of nature's wide domains
Can bliss for man be found?
The birds wild carroled over head,
The breeze around me blew,
And nature's awful chorus said —
No bliss for man she knew.
I questioned love, whose early ray,
So rosy bright appears,
And heard the timid genius say,
His light was dimmed by tears.
I questioned friendship : Friendship sighed,
And thus her answer gave —
The few whom fortune never tried
Were withered in the grave!
I asked if vice could bliss bestow?
Vice boasted loud and well,
But fading from her withered brow,
The borrowed roses fell.
I sought of feeling, if her skill
Could soothe the wounded breast;
And found her mourning, faint and still
For other's woes distressed!
I questioned virtue; virtue sighed,
No boon could she dispense —
Nor virtue was her name, she cried,
But humble penitence.
I questioned death — the grisly shade
Relaxed his brow severe —
And "I am happiness," he said,
"If virtue guides thee here."
February 22, 1842. Mecklenburg Jeffersonian 1(50): 4.

The Summer Birds - An 1842 Poem

By Mrs. Amelia B. Welby.
Sweet warblers of the sunny hours,
Forever on the wing —
I love them as I love the flowers,
The sunlight and the spring.
They come like pleasant memories,
In Summer's joyous time,
And sing their gushing melodies
As I would sing a rhyme.
In the green and quiet places
Where the golden sunlight falls,
We sit with smiling faces,
To list their silvery calls;
And when their holy anthems
Come pealing through the air,
Our heart leaps forth to meet them,
With a blessing and a prayer.
Amid the morning's fragrant dew —
Amidst the mists of even —
They warble on as if they drew
Their music down from Heaven.
How sweetly sounds each mellow note,
Beneath the moon's pale ray,
When dying zephyrs rise and float,
Like lovers' sighs, away!
Like the shadowy spirits seem at eve,
Among the tombs they glide;
Where sweet pale forms for which we grieve,
Lie sleeping side by side.
They break with song the solemn hush
Where peace reclines her head,
And link their lays with mournful thoughts
That cluster round the dead;
For never can my soul forget
The loves of other years;
Their memories fill my spirit yet —
I've kept them green with tears;
And their singing greets my heart at times,
As in the days of yore,
Though their music and their loveliness
Is o'er — forever o'er.
And often, when the mournful sight
Comes with a low, sweet tune,
And sets a star on every height,
And one beside the moon —
When not a sound of wind or wave
The holy stillness mars,
I look above and try to trace
Their dwellings in the stars.
The birds! the birds of summer hours —
They bring a gush of glee,
To a child among the fragrant flowers —
To the sailor on the sea.
We hear their thrilling voices
In their swift and airy flight,
And the inmost heart rejoices
With a calm and pure delight.
In the stillness of the starlight hours,
When I am with the dead,
Oh! may they flutter mid the flowers
That blossom o'er my head.
And pour their songs of gladness forth
In one melodious strain,
O'er lips whose broken melody
Shall never sing again.
May 18, 1842. Huntingdon Journal 7(19): 1. From the Christian World. Also May 25, 1842 in the Jeffersonian Republican 3(12): 1.

It Is Not Always May

By Professor Longfellow.
The sun is bright — the air is clear,
The darting swallows soar and sing,
And from the stately elm I hear
The blue bird prophesying spring.
So blue yon winding river flows,
It seems an outlet from the sky,
Where waiting till the west wind blows,
The freighted clouds at anchor lie.
All things are new — the buds, the leaves,
That guild the elm-tree's nodding crest;
And e'en the nest beneath the eaves, —
There are no birds in last year's nest!
All things rejoice in youth and love;
The fulness of their first delight!
And learn from the soft heavens above,
The melting tenderness of night.
Maiden that read'st this simple rhyme,
Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay;
Enjoy the fragrance, of thy prime,
For oh, it is not always May!
Enjoy the Spring of Love and Youth,
To some good angel leave the rest!
For time will teach thee soon the truth —
There are no birds in last year's nest.
May 11, 1842. Jeffersonian Republican 3(10): 1. Also May 13, 1856 in the Washington D.C. Evening Star 7(1018): 4.

The Mocking Bird - An 1843 Poem

When joyous spring-time glads the earth;
When op'ning buds burst wide their sheaves;
When evergreens first fill the hearth;
When frosts and freezes take their leaves,
The Mocking Bird, in joyous glee,
Essays the song
That will, ere long,
Fill field and groves with melody.
When round the porch the woodbines twine;
When honeysuckles feast the eyes;
When leafy bowers clothe the vine;
Just as the sun begins to rise.
The Mock-bird's mellow mating notes,
Leading the choir
Of bush and briar,
In richest cadence round him floats.
When summer's sun retires to rest,
In azure cloud-couch fringed with gold;
When cooling breezes from the West,
Come laden with perfumes untold,
There's nothing sweet, or rich, or pure
The zephyr brings
Upon its wings,
More welcome than his overture.
Nor ceases with the close of day,
The feathered songster's vesper hymn;
At night he seeks some sheltered spray,
Near man a friendly roosting limb,
And ever and anon again
Warbles a stave
Each windy wave
Aeolian-harp-like wakes a strain.
February 22, 1843. Edgefield Advertiser 8(4): 1. From the South Carolinian. Poetic Recess feature.

The Pine Tree - An 1843 Poetic Expression

By Alfred B. Street.
Stern dweller of the mountain! with thy feet
Grasping the crag, and lifting to the sky
Thy haughty crest! — stern warrior-king thy form
Scarce deigns to shake, when e'en the mighty blast,
Which the strong eagle fears to stern, swoops down
And breaks upon thee. O'er the glimmering chasm
As lean'st thou, with one giant limb outspread,
Thy sceptre, and seamed armor on thy breast,
What is more grand, more glorious than thee!
The headlong torrent pitching at thy base
Sends forth but vassal rumblings, when the storm
Awakes thy thunder; and the puny woods
Seem like bent saplings when thy towering shape
Swings in its majesty. The lightning's dart
Hath streaked, but not consumed thee; upward still,
As the black chariot of the fiend o'er rolls,
Upward still, warrior-king! thy crest doth point,
And in sublime defiance dost thou fling
Thy emerald robe from off thy wounded breast,
For other blows to fall, fierce hissing forth
Thy scorn as flies the tempest. On thy rock,
Thy throne impregnable, thou hast not reigned
During the lapse of ages, for a blast
To break thee, or a lightning shaft to cleave
Thy plumed head to the earth. The hurricane
And showers of blazing levin-bolts alone
Can hurl thee from thy post of centuries.
Yet art thou gentle, monarch of the crag!
When all is gentle round thee — when the sky
Is soft with summer, and the sunshine basks
In love upon thy branches, bright-winged birds
Flutter within they plumes, and make thee gay
With their sweet songs; the downy pinioned breeze
Soothes thee, until thou murmurest in a voice
Of blandest music, that upon the ear
Steals sad, but oh, how winning!
As thy head
Bears the wild tempest when the rains are launched
In slanted phalanx, as when from the west
The wind fans lightly, and the parted clouds
Let the fresh sunshine lean thy branches drop
Their spinklings on the blossom hung beneath,
Till its blue eye is deeper in its blue,
And floats its sweet breath sweeter; while the moss
That plump and green o'er spreads they iron roots,
Fringed delicate sandals, seems some trysting place,
Where fairy shapes of gold and ebony
Glance o'er in mazy dances. Winter stern,
Howling through forests changed to skeletons
At the first mimicking breath of Autumn, sent
As the mere courier of his dread approach,
Though hurling all his blasts, from thee recoils,
His fury spent in vain : not one slight plume,
No, not the tiniest fibre of thy sprays,
Blanches of falls; but as thou stood at when earth
Leaped living at the blue bird call of Spring,
Unchanged wilt thou again her carol hail,
And tell where passed her timid steps from prints
Of violets and of cowslips.
Let us mark,
Proud pine! — thou one of myriad instruments,
Through which mysterious, solemn Nature breathes
The music of her wisdom in our souls —
Oh, let us mark thy likeness in the world,
The wondrous world of man. True Greatness towers
A glorious monarch throned on craggy thought,
Decked in its proud regalia. When the blast
Of Fortune bursts, it bends not; o'er the herd
It spreads its sceptered arm, and weaker souls
Bow, when occasion wakes it energies
In all their native glory. Earth's wild storms
May sweep across it, and their lightnings touch
its lifted crest; but haughtily it dates
The scathing wrath, and casts its deepest scorn
At the endeavor baffled. Glorious gifts
Are not bestowed for every passing cloud
Of life to lay them darkened in the dust.
And it is gentle too, when gentle hearts
Are round it; love for love it freely gives,
And while it bears the storm upon its head,
It yields a cherishing care to those that cling
Unto it for protection. In life's change
It changes not; but as it smiled in joy,
So in the bleak waste of adversity
It wears its 'customed look, and welcomes back
The sunshine of renewed prosperity.
March 16, 1843. New York Daily Tribune 2(289): 4. From the Knickerbocker for March.