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Felicia Dorothea Hemans

(25 September 1793 – 16 May 1835 / Liverpool, England)

The Birds


Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God.
~ Luke, xii, 6.

TRIBES of the air! whose favored race
May wander through the realms of space,
Free guests of earth and sky;
In form, in plumage, and in song,
What gifts of nature mark your throng
With bright variety!

Nor differ less your forms, your flight,
Your dwellings hid from hostile sight,
And the wild haunts ye love;
Birds of the gentle beak! how dear
Your wood-note, to the wanderer's ear,
In shadowy vale or grove!

Far other scenes, remote, sublime,
Where swain or hunter may not climb,
The mountain-eagle seeks;
Alone he reigns, a monarch there,
Scarce will the chamois' footstep dare
Ascend his Alpine peaks.

Others there are, that make their home
Where the white billows roar and foam,
Around th' o'erhanging rock;
Fearless they skim the angry wave,
Or sheltered in their sea-beat cave,
The tempest's fury mock.

Where Afric's burning realm expands,
The ostrich haunts the desert sands,
Parched by the blaze of day;
The swan, where northern rivers glide,
Through the tall reeds that fringe their tide,
Floats graceful on her way.

The condor, where the Andes tower,
Spreads his broad wing of pride and power,
And many a storm defies;

Bright in the orient realms of morn,
All beauty's richest hues adorn
The Bird of Paradise.

Some, amidst India's grove of palm,
And spicy forests breathing balm,
Weave soft their pendent nest;
Some, deep in western wilds, display
Their fairy form and plumage gay,
In rainbow colors drest.

Others no varied song may pour,
May boast no eagle-plume to soar,
No tints of light may wear;
Yet, know, our Heavenly Father guides
The least of these, and well provides
For each, with tenderest care.

Shall He not then thy guardian be?
Will not his aid extend to thee?
Oh! safely may'st thou rest!?
Trust in his love, and e'en should pain,
Should sorrow tempt thee to complain,
Know, what He wills is best!

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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