Ada Cambridge (21 November 1844 – 19 July 1926 / St Gemans, Norfolk)
The Coo of the Cushat
Over the smooth lawns, broider'd with violets,
Over the hedges of snow-white thorn,
Over the billowy, pink apple-blossoms,
The musical coo of the cushat is borne.
In the still depths of the dim old plantations,
Where the sweet whispering night-wind stirs
The delicate scent from the dew-sprinkled flowers,
It sings by its nest in the tall green firs.
So peaceful, so pure, so divinely contented,
The world out of sight and its true love nigh
Their little grey wings softly folded together,—
What dreams I have set to that melody!
I listen at dawn, and I listen at even;
I hear the notes bubbling all day long
Through the woodpecker's laugh and the chirp of the titmouse,—
Little dove, yours is the sweetest song!
'Tis not a sad song, though it sets me a-crying—
But gladness too deep to be spoken aloud;
Nor forlorn, though 'tis sung in the loneliest places—
But only too sacred to sing to a crowd.
I envy you, though you're so small and so humble;
I wish I were like you, you shy little dove—
So far from the world and so free from its passion,
Yet sure of your white eggs and sure of your love.
I wish I were pure from low earthly ambitions,
As quiet and calm and contented as you;
I wish my heart held such a well-spring of music,
That I were as gentle and trustful and true.
Little dove, you were worthy to carry the olive
Over the waters to Noah's host,
To die for the mother of Christ in the Temple,
To be chosen for shrine of the Holy Ghost.
And now you have only to live and be happy,
To rear up your young ones and teach them to coo;
O sing on, and teach me the heavenly lessons,
To be faithful and worthy of God's work too.
Teach me so humbly to take what He gives me,
The manifold duties, the great and the small;
Teach me so simply to do what He bids me,
Loving and trustful, and thankful for all.
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