A Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields/What the Swallows Say (Théophile Gautier)
WHAT THE SWALLOWS SAY.
Leaves not green, but red and gold,
Fall and dot the yellow grass,
Morn and eve the wind is cold,
Sunny days are gone, alas!
Showers lift bubbles on the pool,
Peasants harvest-work despatch;
Winter comes apace to rule.
Swallows cluster on the thatch:
Hundreds, hundreds of the race
Gathered, hold a high debate;
One says, 'Athens is my place.
Thither shall I emigrate.
'Every year I go and build
On the famous Parthenon,
Thus the cornice-hole is filled,
Mark of an insulting gun.'
'Smyrna suits my humbler needs,'
Says a second, twittering gay;
'Hadjis there count amber beads,
Sitting in the sun's bright ray.
'In a café's little room,
Where chibouks a vapour raise,
Floating 'mid the strange perfume,
Turbans shall I skimming graze.'
'Balbeck, triglyph that I love,
Thee again,' says one, 'I seek;
There shall I hang soon above
Little ones with open beak.'
One cries out, 'Lo! my address!
Rhodes, the palace of the knights;
Year by year, my nest I tress
On the black-stone pillar heights.'
Says a fifth, 'Old age, you see,
Weighs me down, I scarce can fly;
Malta's terraced rock for me!
Azure wave and azure sky!'
And the sixth, 'In Cairo fair,
On a lofty minaret,
Mud head-quarters lined with hair
Make me winter quite forget.'
'At the second cataract,'
Says the last, ''mid beauties brown,
Is my nest. The place exact
Is a granite monarch's crown'
All: 'To-morrow many miles
File by file, we shall have gone.
Peaks of snow, and plains, and isles,
Vanish far,—yet on,—still on!'
Twinkling bright their eyes of jet,
Clapping wings in brotherhood,
Twitter thus, the swallows met
When the rust is on the wood.
All they say I understand,
For the poet is a bird,
Captive, broken-winged, and banned,
Struggling still, though oft unheard.
Oh! For wings, for wings, for wings!
As sings Ruckert in his song,
To fly with the birds and the springs
Wherever the sun shines long.