Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
V. The Bird and the Bee
By James Drummond Burns (1823–1864)
THE BIRD is your true Poet. I have seen him,
When the snow wrapped his seeds, and not a crumb
Was in his larder, perch upon a branch,
And sing from his brave heart a song of trust
In Providence, who feeds him though he sows not,        5
Nor gathers into barns. Whate’er his fears
Or sorrows be, his spirit bears him up;
Cares ne’er o’ermaster him, for ’tis his wont
To stifle them with music. Out of sight
He buries them in the depths of his sweet song,        10
And gives them a melodious sepulture.
  He teaches me philosophy,—yea, more,
He leads me up to Faith. Your busy Bee
No favourite is of mine. There is no music
In that monotonous hum. To me it seems        15
A trumpet, which the little Pharisee
Sounds, that the common people of the field
May well regard his industry, and mark
How he improves the sunshine. Even that song
Dies with the flowers; for when the dreary days        20
Of Winter come, he folds his wing to lie
In his luxurious halls, and there amidst
His magazines of daintiest food, and vaults
Brimming with luscious amber-coloured wine,
The spiritless sluggard dreams away his hours;        25
Or if he wake, ’tis but to gorge himself
In solitude, with the rich cloying fare
Of an exclusive feast. His hospitality
No stranger ever shares. Heedless he sees
His mates of Summer droop and starve before        30
His frozen gates. He revels deep within;
Without they die: yet the small misanthrope
Shall guard his treasures with a surly sting!

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