Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
To a Swallow Building under our Eaves (1832)
By Jane Welsh Carlyle (1806–1866)
THOU too hast travelled, little fluttering thing—
Hast seen the world, and now thy weary wing
            Thou too must rest.
But much, my little bird, couldst thou but tell,
I’d give to know why here thou lik’st so well        5
            To build thy nest.
For thou hast passed fair places in thy flight;
A world lay all beneath thee where to light;
            And, strange thy taste,
Of all the vari’d scenes that met thine eye—        10
Of all the spots for building ’neath the sky—
            To choose this waste.
Did fortune try thee? was thy little purse
Perchance run low, and thou, afraid of worse,
            Felt here secure?        15
Ah, no! thou need’st not gold, thou happy one!
Thou know’st it not. Of all God’s creatures, man
            Alone is poor!
What was it, then? some mystic turn of thought,
Caught under German eaves, and hither brought,        20
            Marring thine eye
For the world’s loveliness, till thou art grown
A sober thing that dost but mope and moan
            Not knowing why?
Nay, if thy mind be sound, I need not ask,        25
Since here I see thee working at thy task
            With wing and beak.
A well-laid scheme doth that small head contain,
At which thou work’st, brave bird, with might and main,
            Nor more need’st seek.        30
In truth, I rather take it thou hast got
By instinct wise much sense about thy lot,
            And hast small care
Whether an Eden or a desert be
Thy home so thou remain’st alive and free        35
            To skim the air.
God speed thee, pretty bird; may thy small nest
With little ones all in good time be blest.
            I love thee much;
For well thou managest that life of thine,        40
While I! Oh, ask not what I do with mine!
            Would I were such!

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