Verse > Anthologies > George Willis Cooke, ed. > The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology
George Willis Cooke, comp.  The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology.  1903.
By James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)
THE BIRD sings not in winter-time,
  Nor doth the happy murmur of the bees
Swarm round us from the chill, unleavèd lime,
And shall ye hear the poet o’ sunny rhyme,
  Mid souls more bleak and bare than winter trees?        5
As a lone singing bird that far away,
  Hath follow’d north the fickle smiles of spring,
Is ambush’d by a sudden bitter day,
And sits forlorn upon a leafless spray,
  Hiding his head beneath his numbèd wing,        10
So is the poet, if he chance to fall
  ’Mong hearts by whom he is not understood,
Dull hearts, whose throbbing grows not musical,
Although their strings are blown upon by all
  The sweetest breezes of the true and good.        15
His spirit pineth orphan’d of that home
  Wherein was nursed its wondrous infancy,
And whence sometimes ’neath night’s all-quiet dome,
Swiftly a wingèd memory will come,
  And prophesy of glory yet to be.        20
Then knows he that he hath not been exiled
  From those wide walls his own by right of birth;
But hath been sent, a well-belovèd child,
A chosen one on whom his father smiled,
  And blest, to be his messenger on Earth.        25
Then doth his brow with its right glory shine,
  And stretching forth his strong, undaunted wings,
He soareth to an atmosphere divine,
Whence he can see afar that clime benign,
  His fatherland, whose mystic song he sings.        30
So in his eyes there doth such blessings grow,
  That all those faces erst so hard and dull,
With a sweet warmth of brotherhood do glow,
As he had seen them glisten long ago,
  In that old home so free and beautiful.        35

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