To the Mocking Bird.

Thou glorious mocker of the world ! I hear1
Thy many voices ringing through the glooms2
Of these green solitudes—and all the clear,3
Bright joyance of thy song enthralls the ear,4
And floods the heart. Over the sphered tombs5
Of vanish’d nations rolls thy music-tide.6
No light from history’s starlike page illumes7
The memory of those nations. They have died.8
None cares for them but thou :— And thou mayst sing9
Perhaps o’er me, as now thy song does ring10
Over their bones by whom thou once wast deified.11
Thou scorner of all cities ! Thou dost leave12
The world’s turmoil and never-ceasing din,13
Where one from other’s woe existence weaves,14
Where the old sighs, the young turns grey and grieves,15
Where misery gnaws the maiden’s heart within ;16
And thou dost flee into the broad green woods,17
Where with thy soul of music thou dost win18
Their heart to harmony—no jar intrudes19
Upon thy sounding melody. Oh, where,20
Amid the sweet musicians of the air,21
Is one so dear as thee to these old solitudes ?22
Ha ! what a burst was that ! The Æolian strain23
Goes floating through the tangled passages24
Of the lone woods—and now it comes again25
A multitudinous melody, like a rain26
Of glassy music under echoing trees,27
Over a ringing lake. It wraps the soul,28
Even as a gem is wrapp’d, when round it roll29
Thin waves of brilliant flame—till we become,30
With very excess of deep pleasure, dumb,31
And pant, like a swift runner clinging to the goal.32
I cannot love the man who doth not love33
(Even as men love light) the song of birds :34
For the first visions that my boy-heart wove35
To fill its sleep with, were, that I did rove36
Amid the woods, what time the snowy herds37
Of morning cloud fled from the rising sun38
Into the depths of heaven’s heart, as words39
That from the poet’s lips do fall upon40
And vanish in the human heart ; and then41
I revell’d in those songs, and sorrow’d when,42
With noon-heat overwrought, the music’s burst was done.43
I would, sweet bird, that I might live with thee,44
Amid the eloquent grandeur of these shades,45
Alone with nature—but it may not be.46
I have to struggle with the tossing sea47
Of human life, until existence fades48
Into Death’s darkness. Thou wilt sing and soar49
Through the thick woods and shadow-chequer’d glades,50
While nought of sorrow casts a dimness o’er51
The brilliance of thy heart—but I must wear,52
As now, my garmenting of pain and care,53
As penitents of old their galling sackcloth wore.54
Yet why complain ? What though fondhopes deferr’d55
Have overshadow’d Youth’s green paths with gloom !56
Still, Joy’s rich music is not all unheard57
There is a voice sweeter than thine, sweet bird !58
To welcome me within my humble home :—59
There is an eye with Love’s devotion bright,60
The darkness of existence to illume !61
Then why complain ? When Death shall cast his blight62
Over the spirit, then my bones shall rest63
Beneath these trees—and from thy swelling breast,64
O’er them thy song shall pour, like a rich flood of light.65