All Quiet along the Potomac and other poems/"Svala, Svala Honom!"


NOT for thy prophetic music,
Of the summer to be born,
Not for sake of plumage shining
In the early April morn,
Listen I, O circling swallow,
In the hush of twilight rest,
To thy vesper hymn so tender,
Evening-hymn of cheer and rest:
"Svala, svala honom!"

Since the strange unwonted twilight
Hid the thorn-encircled Head,
Thou, O bird of consolation,
Hast thy word of comfort said.
On the cross above Him, staying
Wing and foot, the legend saith,
Thou, O sympathizing swallow,
Chanted till his dying breath:
"Svala, svala honom!"

'Tis a pretty legend truly,
Born beneath the midnight sun,
From the monkish convent story,
Or the painted missal won.

Still I hear the echo chanted,
Down the ages sounding sweet;
Still I hear the brooding murmur,
Softly still thy prayer repeat:
"Svala, svala honom!"

So I fancy cheer and comfort
With the whirring of thy wings;
Still I wait and bid my sorrow
Vanish when the swallow sings;
Thinking how much nearer heaven
Birds can flutter, as they will,
Than I, and so repeat the whisper
Through the ether blue and still:
"Svala, svala honom!"

  1. "Console, console him!"