The Soote Season

How sad it is to ail in the spring,
To feel amid the blooming your decline,
To feel a shiver rattle down your spine
While sunshine pours and singing birds take wing.
Sickness should be a frigid, winter thing,—
A quarantined repose of cold repine
That’s bordered on both sides, with strict confine,
By fresh delight and wealthy harvesting;
For sickness fits in spring like rain in shine.
And never more does sickness have a sting
Than when all nature seems to bloom and sing
With such a cheer as seems a joy divine.
And never more does care to illness cling
Than when the bloom is fresh upon the vine.

^ ^


To Jean-Philippe Rameau

Attentive student of the songs of birds,
    No beakèd beast hath e'er more sweetly trill'd
A pair of notes or call'd in major thirds,
    Or minor, with musicality more skill'd.
Adaptive linguist, practic'd in the tongue  
    Of wingèd feather'd creatures, thou hast writ
Into "The Birdsong Songbook" songs unsung
    By birds which yet harmoniously fit.
And though the book began in higher throats
     Diversely tun'd by Nature's artful hand
Ere measur'd were the times and tones of notes,
    (Which often rest them now upon a stand),
Its finest lines (o'er which I now do rave)
Witness thy penmanship on every stave. 

^ ^

Morning Song

In semitones he sang his morning song:
With perfect intonation did he sound
Each pitch-pure shaft of tone to richly confound
The staccato, choppy, chirpy, cheepy throng.
After this phrase of notes sung clear and strong,
A cadence-closing burst of trill unwound,
Shaken out taut and cinching, fast and round,
That lasted to the pure tones doubly long.
More beautiful singing I have never heard,
And yet was I inclined to doubt its worth.
I silenced my mind and listened to the earth,
And this was in the singing of the bird:
If all the world will be the way it is,
Be thankful for the bird that sings like this.

^ ^

Chicken Mawk (or, “Mother Hen”)

            A dandelion-yellow chick
            Lately has lost her smooth white cap
            With edges chipped out tap by tap
And peck by peck and tick by tick.
            She moves with careful steps between
            Her mother's not-too-careful strides,
            And with a careless foot collides,
And falls (kerplunk!) sans any teen.

            Today as small as a mother wren,
            She'll soon outsize a mother dove,
            Then shortly after will she prove         
A natural mother,—a mother hen.
^ ^