Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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THE REDBREAST CHASING THE BUTTERFLY

          ART thou the bird whom Man loves best,
          The pious bird with the scarlet breast,
              Our little English Robin;
          The bird that comes about our doors
          When Autumn-winds are sobbing?
          Art thou the Peter of Norway Boors?
              Their Thomas in Finland,
              And Russia far inland?
          The bird, that by some name or other
          All men who know thee call their brother,                   10
          The darling of children and men?
          Could Father Adam open his eyes
          And see this sight beneath the skies,
          He'd wish to close them again.
          --If the Butterfly knew but his friend,
          Hither his flight he would bend;
          And find his way to me,
          Under the branches of the tree:
          In and out, he darts about;
          Can this be the bird, to man so good,                       20
          That, after their bewildering,
          Covered with leaves the little children,
              So painfully in the wood?
          What ailed thee, Robin, that thou could'st pursue
              A beautiful creature,
          That is gentle by nature?
          Beneath the summer sky
          From flower to flower let him fly;
          'Tis all that he wishes to do.
          The cheerer Thou of our in-door sadness,                    30
          He is the friend of our summer gladness:
          What hinders, then, that ye should be
          Playmates in the sunny weather,
          And fly about in the air together!
          His beautiful wings in crimson are drest,
          A crimson as bright as thine own:
          Would'st thou be happy in thy nest,
          O pious Bird! whom man loves best,
          Love him, or leave him alone!
                                                              1806.


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