One morning (raw it was and wet
A foggy day in winter time)
A Woman on the road I met,
Not old, though something past her prime:
Majestic in her person, tall and straight;
And like a Roman matron's was her mien and gait.
The ancient spirit is not dead;
Old times, thought I, are breathing there;
Proud was I that my country bred
Such strength, a dignity so fair:
She begged an alms, like one in poor estate;
I looked at her again, nor did my pride abate.
When from these lofty thoughts I woke,
"What is it," said I, "that you bear,
Beneath the covert of your Cloak,
Protected from this cold damp air? "
She answered, soon as she the question heard,
"A simple burthen, Sir, a little Singing-bird."
And, thus continuing, she said,
"I had a Son, who many a day
Sailed on the seas, but he is dead;
In Denmark he was cast away:
And I have travelled weary miles to see
If aught which he had owned might still remain for me.
The bird and cage they both were his:
'Twas my Son's bird; and neat and trim
He kept it: many voyages
The singing-bird had gone with him;
When last he sailed, he left the bird behind;
From boding's, as might be, that hung upon his mind.
He to a fellow-lodger's care
Had left it, to be watched and fed,
And pipe its song in safety; there
I found it when my Son was dead;
And now, God help me for my little wit!
I bear it with me, Sir; he took so much delight in it."