The Redbird

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

From "Wild Thorn and Lily"

Among the white haw-blossoms, where the creek
Droned under drifts of dogwood and of haw,
The redbird, like a crimson blossom blown
Against the snow-white bosom of the Spring,
The chaste confusion of her lawny breast,
Sang on, prophetic of serener days,
As confident as June's completer hours.
And I stood listening like a hind, who hears
A wood nymph breathing in a forest flute
Among the beech-boles of myth-haunted ways:
And when it ceased, the memory of the air
Blew like a syrinx in my brain: I made
A lyric of the notes that men might know:

He flies with flirt and fluting -
As flies a crimson star
From flaming star-beds shooting -
From where the roses are.

Wings past and sings; and seven
Notes, wild as fragrance is, -
That turn to flame in heaven, -
Float round him full of bliss.

He sings; each burning feather
Thrills, throbbing at his throat;
A song of firefly weather,
And of a glowworm boat:

Of Elfland and a princess
Who, born of a perfume,
His music rocks, - where winces
That rosebud's cradled bloom.

No bird sings half so airy,
No bird of dusk or dawn,
Thou masking King of Faery!
Thou red-crowned Oberon!

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