George Meredith

(12 February 1828 – 18 May 1909 / Portsmouth, England)

The Two Blackbirds


A blackbird in a wicker cage,
That hung and swung 'mid fruits and flowers,
Had learnt the song-charm, to assuage
The drearness of its wingless hours.

And ever when the song was heard,
From trees that shade the grassy plot
Warbled another glossy bird,
Whose mate not long ago was shot.

Strange anguish in that creature's breast,
Unwept like human grief, unsaid,
Has quickened in its lonely nest
A living impulse from the dead.

Not to console its own wild smart, -
But with a kindling instinct strong,
The novel feeling of its heart
Beats for the captive bird of song.

And when those mellow notes are still,
It hops from off its choral perch,
O'er path and sward, with busy bill,
All grateful gifts to peck and search.

Store of ouzel dainties choice
To those white swinging bars it brings;
And with a low consoling voice
It talks between its fluttering wings.

Deeply in their bitter grief
Those sufferers reciprocate,
The one sings for its woodland life,
The other for its murdered mate.

But deeper doth the secret prove,
Uniting those sad creatures so;
Humanity's great link of love,
The common sympathy of woe.

Well divined from day to day
Is the swift speech between them twain;
For when the bird is scared away,
The captive bursts to song again.

Yet daily with its flattering voice,
Talking amid its fluttering wings,
Store of ouzel dainties choice
With busy bill the poor bird brings.

And shall I say, till weak with age
Down from its drowsy branch it drops,
It will not leave that captive cage,
Nor cease those busy searching hops?

Ah, no! the moral will not strain;
Another sense will make it range,
Another mate will soothe its pain,
Another season work a change.

But thro' the live-long summer, tried,
A pure devotion we may see;
The ebb and flow of Nature's tide;
A self-forgetful sympathy.

Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

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