Littell's Living Age/Volume 129/Issue 1667/On Hearing The Chiff-Chaff

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ON HEARING THE CHIFF-CHAFF.

THE EARLIEST AND SMALLEST
OF OUR MIGRATORY BIRDS.

Where mighty forest trees uprear
Their leafless boughs on high,
We listen with attentive ear,
And watch with practised eye,

While music from the loosened throat
Of many a winter bird,
In liquid sweetness, note on note,
Through all the wood is heard.

But not the trill of merry thrush,
Or blackbird's cadence clear,
Or twittering finch, in tree or bush,
Can satisfy our ear.

Ah, what is that short simple song
Which trembles through the air?
That is the voice for which we long -
Our favourite hails us there.

Two syllables are all the store.
Of music in its breast,
But like a fountain running o'er,
Its twin notes never rest.

It tells us that the nightingale
Will soon be on its way,
And that the swallow without fail
Will keep its ordered day.

It heralds the bright-wingèd crowd
Which flock from over seas;
It harbingers the concert loud
Of vernal melodies.

Therefore we love those twin notes plain
For more than meets the ear,
As pledges of the glorious strain
Which crowns the perfect year.

So, in our hearts, a still small voice
Comes preluding the song,
With which the glorious saints rejoice
In heaven's exultant throng!

Richard Wilton
Leisure Hour.