The Bush-Sparrow

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein


Ere wild-haws, looming in the glooms,
Build bolted drifts of breezy blooms;
And in the whistling hollow there
The red-bud bends, as brown and bare
As buxom Roxy's up-stripped arm;
From some gray hickory or larch,
Sighed o'er the sodden meads of March,
The sad heart thrills and reddens warm
To hear you braving the rough storm,
Frail courier of green-gathering powers;
Rebelling sap in trees and flowers;
Love's minister come heralding
O sweet saint-voice among bleak bowers!
O brown-red pursuivant of Spring!


'Moan' sob the woodland waters still
Down bloomless ledges of the hill;
And gray, gaunt clouds like harpies hang
In harpy heavens, and swoop and clang
Sharp beaks and talons of the wind:
Black scowl the forests, and unkind
The far fields as the near: while song
Seems murdered and all beauty wrong.
One weak frog only in the thaw
Of spawny pools wakes cold and raw,
Expires a melancholy bass
And stops as if bewildered: then
Along the frowning wood again,
Flung in the thin wind's vulture face,
From woolly tassels of the proud,
Red-bannered maples, long and loud,
'The Spring is come! is here! her Grace! her Grace!'


'Her Grace, the Spring! her Grace! her Grace!
Climbs, beautiful and sunny browed,
Up, up the kindling hills and wakes
Blue berries in the berry brakes:
With fragrant flakes, that blow and bleach,
Deep-powders smothered quince and peach:
Eyes dogwoods with a thousand eyes;
Teaches each sod how to be wise
With twenty wildflowers to one weed,
And kisses germs that they may seed.
In purest purple and sweet white
Treads up the happier hills of light,
Bloom, cloudy-borne, song in her hair
And balm and beam of odorous air.
Winds, her retainers; and the rains
Her yeomen strong that sweep the plains:
Her scarlet knights of dawn, and gold
Of eve, her panoply unfold:
Her herald tabarded behold!
Awake to greet! prepare to sing!
She comes, the darling Duchess, Spring!'

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