06 November 2013

On Hearing a Mocking Bird Sing - An 1867 Poem

By J. Emory Miller of N.C. Rosedale, May 18, 1867. For the Bolivar Bulletin.
Oh! the wearisome march of the long lonesome hour,
Who never has felt its heart teasing power?
Who never has felt when the breeze wander'd by,
That its tone breathed the warmth of sympathy!
Who never has felt, when the soul-stirring song,
Of the gay-plumaged bird the forests among,
Stole deep in the heart, that the happy one saw,
And pitied the gloom that hung on his brow?
And now a sweet carol is borne to my ear,
'Tis struck to the tune of one I hold dear,
Of one, that I often in childhood have heard,
Mellifluous, roll from the breast of a bird,
That, when the spring dawn blushed pure in the skies
O'er the pine-covered land so dear to my eyes —
That far distant land — to my window still crept
And warbled its songs o'er the bosom that slept.
Can't thou be the same, melodious bird?
No, No, — long ago the zephyrs have stirred
Lamentingly through the roses that wave,
O'er that spot of my youth — the mocking bird's grave;
But, casting the eye down they family line,
A progenitor dear, perchance you may find,
In the same little bird that sung at the pane,
That, perhaps, will never protect me again.
How well I remember one clear, sunny day,
When all of us children were happy at play, —
My sweet sister Annie, my brother and I —
(Heart, give to the winds that burdensome sigh) —
Down sweet through the leaves a thrilling song came,
We stopped and we listened — that song was the same
That now to my heart comes rippling from thee,
Sweet bird, charming bird of fair Tennessee.
And now, little friend, thou art gifted with wings,
And never hast trouble — thy loving one sings
As sweetly, as softly, when thou are away,
As when thou, close to her bosom, dost stay;
The forest will miss thy heart-thrilling song,
And my bosom will think thou tarriest too long.
But, beautiful bird of fair Tennessee,
Wilt thou accomplish an errand for me?
I'd have thee to go to the far cottage door,
That, haply, will echo my footsteps no more,
And perch on the sapling that towers close by,
And warble these words, if my mother is nigh:
Oh! mother, all the power,
I feel distinctly now,
Of that preserving kiss,
You pressed upon my brow
When we parted.
An amulet it is,
Along my pathway grim,
To shield me 'mid the storms,
From the sad fate of him
Who's brok'n hearted.
Yet, for your wand'ring son,
Oh! mother to the skies
Oft send an earnest prayer,
That storms may not arise
Too fierce to bear,
Oh, press it up to Heaven,
With but one half the love
My bosom bears for thee,
My dear, maternal dove,
And God will hear.
And then to my sister I'd have thee to go,
And pour out the song that enlivens me so —
And from the old spring, where the bright waters creep
Through the moss-covered rocks, and laughingly leap
Down the blossoming vale, convey me a note,
In the jubilant realms of thy musical throat;
Catch, too, the song of the little red bird,
That hops in the alder, where the streamlet is heard.
Then go to rest, in a forest of pines,
Fly softly along — my father reclines
Up there on the hill. A light in the tree
That waves just above him, and kindly for me
Warble up to the skies a beautiful prayer —
I know Heaven's ear must surely be there,
Above the cold bed of him who has rode
Undaunted through storms to his happy abode.
To the cottage return, and into the door,
When twilight comes on, and labor is o'er,
Trill your softest adieu. — Pass down through the vale,
And catch every note that's afloat on the gale,
Of breeze or of bird or the dear little rill,
That frolics along at the base of the hill, —
Then haste to the bosom that's waiting for thee,
Sweet bird, charming bird of fair Tennessee.
June 1, 1867. Bolivar Bulletin 2(43): 1.