All Quiet along the Potomac and other poems/The Birds Camp-meeting
THE BIRDS' CAMP-MEETING.
DID you ever hear of the bird's camp-meeting?
It was held the loveliest day of June;
Brother Blackbird wisely led the preaching,
And Bob-o'-Lincoln led off each tune.
The Magpie, out on a circuit going,
Declared himself a repentant sinner,
And then flew off and purloined a spoon
That was lying close by a poor man's dinner.
The Parrot spoke with a claw uplifted,
And told them a story as old as sin,
And exceeding dull; so the brethren whispered,
And voted it an unmeaning din.
Kingfisher came from the reedy meadow,
Piping a measure that nobody knew,
Till Robert-o'-Lincoln was quite discouraged
Before the singer was halfway through.
A Cuckoo told, with a sound of crying,
How slyly a Starling's nest she stole,
And that ever since she had been bemoaning
The weary weight on her burdened soul.
Then Elder Raven his head shook sadly;
He "hoped the bird might in earnest be;
But he didn't know; there had been confession
So oft before this— Well, we would see."
A Redbird came in his crimson jacket,
With silvery speeches and flowing words,
And his sermons all had exceeding power
Among the ranks of the lady birds.
And then commenced quite a disaffection;
Turmoil and struggle and strife ensued:
The Blackbird spoke of his accents sharply,
And Redbird declared he was old and rude.
The Owls and Hawks with the Blackbird sided,
The Sparrow picked at the crimson coat,
Until all the birds clamored loud together,
Each one with his most discordant note.
Then Bob-o'-Lincoln, the wise old singer,
Resolved to conquer this threatening phase,
Proclaimed at once that the birds should mingle
Their voices loud in a song of praise.
* * * *
Up through the fragrant forest arches,
Afloat on breezes cloudward sent,
There rose a great, unequalled anthem
Above the green camp-meeting tent.
And quite forgotten ere 'twas ended
Were all the causes of complaint,
Till ugly Owl and sullen Raven
Grew peaceful each as patient saint.
A happy thought for birds or people
Who into hapless quarrels fall—
To leave them where they are, unsettled,
And praise the Lord who governs all.