The Phoebe-Bird

A poem by George Parsons Lathrop


Yes, I was wrong about the phoebe-bird.
Two songs it has, and both of them I've heard:
I did not know those strains of joy and sorrow
Came from one throat, or that each note could borrow
Strength from the other, making one more brave
And one as sad as rain-drops on a grave.

But thus it is. Two songs have men and maidens:
One is for hey-day, one is sorrow's cadence.
Our voices vary with the changing seasons
Of life's long year, for deep and natural reasons.
Therefore despair not. Think not you have altered,
If, at some time, the gayer note has faltered.
We are as God has made us. Gladness, pain,
Delight and death, and moods of bliss or bane,
With love and hate, or good and evil - all,
At separate times, in separate accents call;
Yet 't is the same heart-throb within the breast
That gives an impulse to our worst and best.
I doubt not when our earthly cries are ended,
The Listener finds them in one music blended.

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