Bluebird's Greeting

A poem by George Parsons Lathrop

Over the mossy walls,
Above the slumbering fields
Where yet the ground no fruitage yields,
Save as the sunlight falls
In dreams of harvest-yellow,
What voice remembered calls, -
So bubbling fresh, so soft and mellow?

A darting, azure-feathered arrow
From some lithe sapling's bow-curve, fleet
The bluebird, springing light and narrow,
Sings in flight, with gurglings sweet:

"Out of the South I wing,
Blown on the breath of Spring:
The little faltering song
That in my beak I bring
Some maiden shall catch and sing,
Filling it with the longing
And the blithe, unfettered thronging
Of her spirit's blossoming.

"Warbling along
In the sunny weather,
Float, my notes,
Through the sunny motes,
Falling light as a feather!
Flit, flit, o'er the fertile land
'Mid hovering insects' hums;
Fall into the sower's hand:
Then, when his harvest comes,
The seed and the song shall have flowered together.

"From the Coosa and Altamaha,
With a thought of the dim blue Gulf;
From the Roanoke and Kanawha;
From the musical Southern rivers,
O'er the land where the fierce war-wolf
Lies slain and buried in flowers;
I come to your chill, sad hours
And the woods where the sunlight shivers.
I come like an echo: 'Awake!'
I answer the sky and the lake
And the clear, cool color that quivers
In all your azure rills.
I come to your wan, bleak hills
For a greeting that rises dearer,
To homely hearts draws me nearer
Than the warmth of the rice-fields or wealth of the ranches.

"I will charm away your sorrow,
For I sing of the dewy morrow:
My melody sways like the branches
My light feet set astir:
I bring to the old, as I hover,
The days and the joys that were,
And hope to the waiting lover!
Then, take my note and sing,
Filling it with the longing
And the blithe, unfettered thronging
Of your spirit's blossoming!"

Not long that music lingers:
Like the breath of forgotten singers
It flies, - or like the March-cloud's shadow
That sweeps with its wing the faded meadow
Not long! And yet thy fleeting,
Thy tender, flute-toned greeting,
O bluebird, wakes an answer that remains
The purest chord in all the year's refrains.

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