06 November 2013

Birds in the City - An 1859 California Poem

By Mrs. C.A. Chamberlain. Sacramento, June 1st, 1859. For the Union.
Rovers of earth and air, why here abide?
Bright, blessful ones, how can you here find rest,
Where little lovely is, and less is blest,
'Midst this vexed human tide?
Why pour your sweet songs here amidst the din,
Unfettered ones, here where the fainting air
Seems shrinking from the burden it must bear,
As conscience shrinks from sin?
Nature has many places formed for you,
Where ye may give your lays of love and bliss,
Amidst a fairer, happier life than this,
'Midst sympathy most true.
Flee to those shades undimm'd by human stain,
Where Earth, in lovely garniture of green,
Breathes thrilling whispers of the Great Serene
Through every floral vein.
Or seek the city haunted not by care —
The quiet city, where they strive no more,
Your strains of life around the still ones pour —
Listeners may wait you there!
Yet, if your song wins 'midst the thronged way,
One brief, sad smile, that tells of other hours,
The early home, and melody and flowers,
E'en for that smile's sake stay!
Yet stay — if here one weary, aching breast,
that has of life but little save its wrong,
Amidst its gloom, is waiting for your song
To lull its woes to rest!
Ye follow man where he a home doth find,
Pouring your music freely round his way,
And ask not if he listens to the lay —
Thus should the poet mind.
Sing 'midst life's discord — sing, for love's sweet sake,
Though few may seem to listen to the sound,
The strains may play some weary heart around,
Hopes drooping flowers to wake.
June 4, 1859. Sacramento Daily Union 17(2555): 8.