06 November 2013

Snow Birds - An 1868 Poem

The tanager and oriole
Are birds of finest feather,
And their sweet songs delight the soul
In sunshine summer weather;
But they have flown away with hosts
Of other swift of slow birds,
And hither now from polar coasts
Fly flocks of merry snow birds.
The black bird and the bobolink,
The pewee and the swallow,
From winter's withering breath, too, shrink,
And summer's footsteps follow,
In the crisp meads and bleak, bare tree,
I find but few or no birds,
Save those that love the chilly breeze,
The lightsome little snow birds.
The brooding wren her wooden house
Lies long ago left lonely;
In many a home on wild-wood boughs
There nestle dry leaves only;
But winter, who drives birds away,
Would so as fain bestow birds;
To soothe the rigor of his sway,
He sends the twittering snow bird.
The robin is with us yet, I know,
The chickadee and blue bird,
And so too, is the sable crow,
Through every change a true bird;
But winter is no friend of theirs,
No good these rude airs blow birds;
They seem to think, and not one shares
The joyance of the snow birds.
When all the air is dark and drear,
And clouds o'er heaven are flying,
And wailing winds we, shivering, bear
The tempest prophesying;
Like jolly spirits, in garments gray,
Lo! sudden come and go birds;
We look around, and sigh, and say,
"'Twill snow, for there are snow birds!"
Tis true they oft are harbingers
Of rough and stormy weather;
But joy, no grief, my spirit stirs,
To see them sport together.
Methinks they're for our solace sent,
And counsel too, although birds,
For who on dark days touch content
So well as do the snow birds?
The snow, by many signs foretold,
Now fast, at last, is falling;
The lone lost winds, grown bitter cold,
With muffled voices calling
Oh! how will now those revelers fare?
No ruth the snow imps show birds;
Vain fear! they for no shelter care,
The tiny stoic snow birds.
For they were cradled in the storm;
Their mates were lay breezes;
Their good gray coats will keep them warm,
Whatever round them freezes.
Ah! let us pray that one above,
As we are not below birds,
Will guard us with his heavenly love,
Even as he guards the snow birds!
January 25, 1868. Sunbury American 4(15): 1.