06 November 2013

The Bobolink - An 1874 Poem

Once on a golden afternoon,
With radiant faces and hearts in tune.
Two fond lovers, in dreaming mood,
Threaded a rural solitude.
Wholly happy, they only knew
That the earth was bright and the sky was blue,
That light and beauty and joy and song
Charmed the way as they passed along:
The air was fragrant with woodland scents,
The squirrel frisked on the roadside fence —
And hovering near them, "Chee, chee, chink?"
Queried the curious bobolink,
Pausing and peering with sidelong head,
As saucily questioning all they said;
While the ox-eye danced on its slender stem,
And all glad nature rejoiced with them.
Over the odorous fields were strewn
Wilting windrows of grass new mown,
And rosy billows of clover bloom
Surged in the sunshine and breathed perfume,
Swinging low on a slender limb,
The sparrow warbled his wedding-hymn,
And balancing on a blackberry brier,
The bobolink sung with his heart on fire —
"Chink? if you wish to kiss her, do!
Do it! do it! You coward, you!
Kiss her?, kiss, kiss her! Who will see?
Only we three! we three! we three!"
Under the garlands of drooping vines,
Through dim vistas of sweet-breathed pines,
Past wide meadow-fields, lately mowed,
Wandered the indolent country road.
The lovers followed it, listening still,
And, loitering slowly, as lovers will,
Entering a gray-roofed bridge that lay
Dusk and cool, in their pleasant way.
Under its arch a smooth, brown stream,
Silently glided with glint and gleam;
Shaded by graceful elms which spread
Their verdurous canopy overhead —
The stream so narrow, the boughs so wide,
They met and mingled across the tide.
Alders lover it, and seemed to keep
Patient watch as it lay asleep,
Mirroring clearly the trees and sky,
And the flitting forms of the dragon-fly, —
Save where the swift-winged swallows played
In and out in the sun and shade,
And darted and circling in merry chase,
Dipped and dimpled its clear, dark face.
Fluttering lightly from brink to brink,
Followed the garrulous bobolink,
Rallying lazily with mirthful din,
The pair who lingered unseen within,
And when from the friendly bridge at last
Into the road beyond they passed,
Again beside them the temper went,
Keeping the thread of his argument —
"Kiss her! kiss her! chick-a-chee-chee?
I'll not mention it! Don't mind me!
I'll be sentinel — I can see
All around from this tall birch-tree!"
But ah! they noted, nor deemed it strange,
In his rollicking chrous a trifling change —
"Do it! do it" — with might and main
Warbled the tell-tale — "Do it again!"
October 1, 1874. Gallipolis Journal 39(47): 1. Also: March 5, 1875 in the Sunbury American 6(47): 1, new series. Also issued in other newspapers.