The linnet had flown from its cage away,
And flitted and sang in the light of day--
Had flown from the lady who loved it well,
In Liberty's freer air to dwell.
Alas! poor bird, it was soon to prove,
Sweeter than Liberty is Love.
When night came on it had ceased to sing,
And had hidden its head beneath its wing.
It thought of the warm room left behind,
The shelter from cold and rain and wind;
It could not sleep, when to sleep it strove--
Liberty needeth the help of Love.
The night owls shrieked as they wheeled along,
Bent upon slaughter, and rapine, and wrong:
There was devilish mirth in their wild halloo,
And the linnet trembled when near they drew;
'Twas fearful to watch them madly rove,
Drunken with Liberty, left of Love.
When morning broke, a grey old crow
Was pecking some carrion down below;
A poor little lamb, half alive, half-dead,
And the crow at each peck turned up its head
With a cunning glance at the linnet above--
What a demon is Liberty left of Love!
Then an eagle hovered far up in the sky,
And the linnet trembled, but could not fly;
With a swoop to the earth the eagle fell,
And rose up anon with a savage yell.
The birds in the woodlands dared not move.
What a despot is Liberty left of Love!
By and bye there arrived, with chattering loud,
Chaffinch and sparrow and finch, in a cloud;
Round and around in their fierce attack,
They plucked the feathers from breast and back;
And the poor little linnet all vainly strove,
Fighting with Liberty left of Love.
"Alas!" it said, with a cry of pain,
"Carry me back to my cage again;
There let me dwell in peaceful ease,
Piping whatever songs I please;
Here, if I stay, my death shall prove,
Liberty dieth left of Love."