Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
The Lover and Birds
By William Allingham (1824–1889)
 
  WITHIN a budding grove
In April’s ear sang every bird his best,
But not a song to pleasure my unrest
  Or touch the tears unwept of bitter love;
Some spake, methought, with pity, some as if in jest:        5
          To every word
          Of every bird
  I listen’d, and replied as it behove.
 
  Scream’d Chaffinch, ‘Sweet, sweet, sweet!
Pretty lovey, come and meet me here!’        10
‘Chaffinch,’ quoth I, ‘be dumb awhile, in fear
  Thy darling prove no better than a cheat,
And never come, or fly when wintry days appear.’
          Yet from a twig
          With voice so big,        15
  The little fowl his utterance did repeat.
 
  Then I, ‘The man forlorn
Hears Earth send up a foolish noise aloft.’
—‘And what’ll he do? What’ll he do?’ scoff’d
  The Blackbird, standing in an ancient thorn,        20
Then spread his sooty wings and flitted to the croft
          With cackling laugh:
          Whom I, being half
  Enraged, call’d after, giving back his scorn.
 
  Worse mock’d the Thrush, Die! die!        25
Oh, could he do it? could he do it? Nay!
Be quick! be quick! Here, here, here!’ (went his lay)
  ‘Take heed! take heed!’ then, ‘Why? why? why? why? why?
See-ee now! see-ee now!’ (he drawl’d) ‘Back! back! back! R-r-r-run away!’
          O Thrush, be still!        30
          Or, at thy will,
  Seek some less sad interpreter than I.
 
  ‘Air, air! blue air and white!
Whither I flee, whither, O whither, O whither I flee!’
(Thus the Lark hurried, mounting from the lea)        35
  ‘Hills, countries, many waters glittering bright,
Whither I see, whither I see! deeper, deeper, deeper, whither I see, see, see!’
          ‘Gay Lark,’ I said,
          ‘The song that ’s bred
  In happy nest may well to heaven make flight.’        40
 
  ‘There ’s something, something sad,
I half remember’—piped a broken strain.
Well sung, sweet Robin! Robin sung again:
  ‘Spring’s opening cheerily, cheerily! be we glad!’
Which moved, I wist not why, me melancholy mad,        45
          Till now, grown meek,
          With wetted cheek,
  Most comforting and gentle thoughts I had.
 
 
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