The Unconquered Air, and Other Poems (1912)/In the Town a Wild Bird Singing

For other versions of this work, see In the Town a Wild Bird singing.


"Hear me, Theresa, Theresa, Theresa!"

Hark! Do I dream? Nay, even now I heard
The whitethroat's music, tremulous yet clear:
The very plaint, O lonely bird,
That often midst the greening woods hath stirred
My heart; but never here!

This is the City! High above the street,
Before my window singing in the dawn,
By what imagination dost thou cheat
Thy hope to utter melody so sweet,
Far from thy groves withdrawn?

Thy tones transport me, wistful, to the North,
Seeming to lay a touch upon my brow
Cool as the balsam-laden airs that now
Through pine-woods blow: they woo my spirit forth—
Forth of the town—forth of myself. But thou?

Dost thou an exile wander from thy home
Or art thou hast'ning thither?
Through what beguilement dost thou friendless roam?
And goest thou—ah, whither?

Day quickly fades, Night may refuse her star,
Clouds may arise, and elemental strife,—
Ah, hapless bird! what wanderlust of life
Betrayed thy wings so far?

Full as my soul of tremulous desires,
Thy voice I hear in supplication rise.
"Theresa!" dost thou call? Unto the skies
The plaint, adoring, holily aspires:—
"Theresa!" Is it she keeps watch o'er thee?—
Homeless—but free?

Wise minstrel! Thou dost well to call on her;
No saint was ever lovelier.
Her heart had room for such wide tenderness
As his who "Little Sister" called the birds,
And pity, deeper than all words,
Taught her, like him, to bless.

Silent? Where art thou? Lo, the City wakes!
Toil's round begins, and calm the world forsakes.
Thou, too, art gone!—nor evermore shalt come
Without my window here at dawn to sing.
Adieu, strange guest! Theresa guide thy wing
Safe to the sweet wild woods that are thy home!