06 November 2013

The Crow's Children - A 1874 Poem

A huntsman, bearing his gun afield,
Went whistling merrily;
When he heard the blackest of black crows
Call out from a withered tree;
"You are going to kill the thievish birds,
And I would if I were you;
But you musn't touch my family,
Whatever else you do?"
"I am only going to kill the birds
That are eating up my crop;
And if your young ones do such things
Be sure they'll have to stop."
"Oh," said the crow, "my children
Are the best ones ever born;
There isn't one among them all
Would steal a grain of corn."
"But how shall I know which ones they are?
Do they resemble you?"
"Oh no," said the crow, "they're the prettiest birds
And the whitest that ever flew!"
So off west the sportsman, whistling
And off, too, went his gun;
And its starting echoes never ceased
Again till the day was done.
And the old crow sat untroubled,
Cawing away in her nook;
For she said, "He'll never kill my birds
Since I told him how they look.
"Now there's the hawk, my neighbor,
She'll see what she will see, soon;
And that saucy, whistling blackbird
May have to change his tune!"
When, lo! she saw the hunter
Taking his homeward track,
With a string of crows as long as his gun
Hanging down his back.
"Alack, alack," said the mother,
"What in the world have you done?
You promised to spare my pretty birds,
And you've killed them every one."
"Your birds!" said the puzzled hunter;
"Why I found them in my corn;
And besides, they are black and ugly
As any that ever were born!"
"Get out of my sight, you stupid!"
Said the angriest of crows;
"How good and fair her children are
There's none but a parent knows."
"Ah, I see, I see," said the hunter,
"But not as you do, quite;
It takes a mother to be so blind
She can't tell black from white."
January 30, 1874. Vermont Phoenix 41(5): 1.