The Catbird

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein


The tufted gold of the sassafras,
And the gold of the spicewood-bush,
Bewilder the ways of the forest pass,
And brighten the underbrush:
The white-starred drifts of the wild-plum tree,
And the haw with its pearly plumes,
And the redbud, misted rosily,
Dazzle the woodland glooms.


And I hear the song of the catbird wake
I' the boughs o' the gnarled wild-crab,
Or there where the snows of the dogwood shake,
That the silvery sunbeams stab:
And it seems to me that a magic lies
In the crystal sweet of its notes,
That a myriad blossoms open their eyes
As its strain above them floats.


I see the bluebell's blue unclose,
And the trillium's stainless white;
The birdfoot-violet's purple and rose,
And the poppy, golden-bright!
And I see the eyes of the bluet wink,
And the heads of the white-hearts nod;
And the baby mouths of the woodland-pink
And sorrel salute the sod.


And this, meseems, does the catbird say,
As the blossoms crowd i' the sun: -
"Up, up! and out! oh, out and away!
Up, up! and out, each one!
Sweethearts! sweethearts! oh, sweet, sweet, sweet!
Come listen and hark to me!
The Spring, the Spring, with her fragrant feet,
Is passing this way! - Oh, hark to the beat
Of her beelike heart! - Oh, sweet, sweet, sweet!
Come! open your eyes and see!
See, see, see!"

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