06 November 2013

The Summer Birds - An 1842 Poem

By Mrs. Amelia B. Welby.
Sweet warblers of the sunny hours,
Forever on the wing —
I love them as I love the flowers,
The sunlight and the spring.
They come like pleasant memories,
In Summer's joyous time,
And sing their gushing melodies
As I would sing a rhyme.
In the green and quiet places
Where the golden sunlight falls,
We sit with smiling faces,
To list their silvery calls;
And when their holy anthems
Come pealing through the air,
Our heart leaps forth to meet them,
With a blessing and a prayer.
Amid the morning's fragrant dew —
Amidst the mists of even —
They warble on as if they drew
Their music down from Heaven.
How sweetly sounds each mellow note,
Beneath the moon's pale ray,
When dying zephyrs rise and float,
Like lovers' sighs, away!
Like the shadowy spirits seem at eve,
Among the tombs they glide;
Where sweet pale forms for which we grieve,
Lie sleeping side by side.
They break with song the solemn hush
Where peace reclines her head,
And link their lays with mournful thoughts
That cluster round the dead;
For never can my soul forget
The loves of other years;
Their memories fill my spirit yet —
I've kept them green with tears;
And their singing greets my heart at times,
As in the days of yore,
Though their music and their loveliness
Is o'er — forever o'er.
And often, when the mournful sight
Comes with a low, sweet tune,
And sets a star on every height,
And one beside the moon —
When not a sound of wind or wave
The holy stillness mars,
I look above and try to trace
Their dwellings in the stars.
The birds! the birds of summer hours —
They bring a gush of glee,
To a child among the fragrant flowers —
To the sailor on the sea.
We hear their thrilling voices
In their swift and airy flight,
And the inmost heart rejoices
With a calm and pure delight.
In the stillness of the starlight hours,
When I am with the dead,
Oh! may they flutter mid the flowers
That blossom o'er my head.
And pour their songs of gladness forth
In one melodious strain,
O'er lips whose broken melody
Shall never sing again.
May 18, 1842. Huntingdon Journal 7(19): 1. From the Christian World. Also May 25, 1842 in the Jeffersonian Republican 3(12): 1.