The Linnet-Hawker.

I met, in a close City square,1
A Linnet-hawker, hawking loud ;2
And, though small melody was there3
To draw a member from the crowd,4
A mournful thought went with his song,5
That secretly attracted me :6
So, fixed I stood, and brooded long,7
While thus he chimed in rudest key ;—8
“Linnets, linnets, full-song linnets, O !”9
The fledgling bliss, the wavy flight,10
The feathery ecstacies that flow11
From freedom in the airy light,12
The little captives may not know.13
Of their own birthright robb’d, alas !14
What voice of anguish might they lift15
In music for the time that was16
Betrayed by so divine a gift !17
Linnets, linnets, full-song linnets, O !18
Far from their woodland joys are they !19
Far, far from the forsaken nest,20
And from their parents far away !21
Who sit and brood with vacant breast22
Amid the sunlight on the leaves,23
Where now a fitful song they sing24
Of sorrow that more inly grieves,25
And will not hope in anything :26
Linnets, linnets, full-song linnets, O !27
But now—since evil has its good28
A latent truth the soul knows well ;29
What mission have the stolen brood30
In this great City’s depths to dwell ?31
It is to cheer the sick at heart32
With Eden songs of country days ;33
Of grass, and balm for every smart ;34
Of freshness, flowers, and woodland ways.35
Linnets, linnets, full-song linnets, O !36
And, through their little throats, a stream37
Of sweet impulsive song will flow ;38
To some—a yearning and a dream ;39
To all—a sweet relief from woe.40
Heard, spirit-like, the tide to stem41
Of toiling men, who muse and moan42
To breathe the woods again !— for them,43
Old Linnet-hawker, still sing on :44
Linnets, linnets, full-song linnets, O !45