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The Angel smiled, and from his radiant face
Above the stir and tumult of the street :
And has exalted them of low degree!”
“I am an Angel, and thou art the King !”
THE POET'S TALE.
THE BIRDS OF KILLINGWORTH.
It was the season, when through all the land
The merle and mavis build, and building sing Those lovely lyrics, written by His hand,
Whom Saxon Cædmon calls the Blithe-heart King ; When on the boughs the purple buds expand,
The banners of the vanguard of the Spring,
The robin and the bluebird, piping loud,
Filled all the blossoming orchards with their glee;
The sparrows chirped as if they still were proud
Their race in Holy Writ should mentioned be; And hungry crows assembled in a cr
crowd, Clamored their piteous prayer incessantly, Knowing who hears the ravens cry, and said : “Give us, O Lord, this day our daily bread !”
Across the Sound the birds of passage sailed,
Speaking some unknown language strange and sweet Of tropic isle remote, and passing hailed
The village with the cheers of all their feet;
Like foreign sailors, landed in the street
Thus came the jocund Spring in Killingworth,
In fabulous days, some hundred years ago ; And thrifty farmers, as they tilled the earth,
Heard with alarm the cawing of the crow, That mingled with the universal mirth,
Cassandra-like, prognosticating woe; They shook their heads, and doomed with dreadful words To swift destruction the whole race of birds.
And a town meeting was convened straightway
To set a price upon the guilty heads Of these mara
arauders, who, in lieu of pay, Levied black-mail upon the garden beds And cornfields, and beheld without dismay
The awful scarecrow, with his fluttering shreds ; The skeleton that waited at their feast, Whereby their sinful pleasure was increased.
Then from his house, a temple painted white,
With fluted columns, and a roof of red,
Slowly descending, with majestic tread,
Down the long street he walked, as one who said, “ A town that boasts inhabitants like me Can have no lack of good society!"
The Parson, too, appeared, a man austere,
The instinct of whose nature was to kill : The wrath of God he preached from year to year,
And read, with fervor, Edwards on the Will ;
In Summer on some Adirondac hill;
From the Academy, whose belfry crowned
The hill of Science with its vane of brass,
And next the Deacon issued from his door,
In his voluminous neck-cloth, white as snow; A suit of sable bombazine he wore;
His form was ponderous, and his step was slow; There never was so wise a man before ;
He seemed the incarnate “Well, I told you so !”
And to perpetuate his great renown
These came together in the new town-hall,
With sundry farmers from the region round.
His air impressive and his reasoning sound ;
Hardly a friend in all that crowd they found,
When they had ended, from his place apart,
Rose the Preceptor, to redress the wrong, And, trembling like a steed before the start,
Looked round bewildered on the expectant throng ; Then thought of fair Almira, and took heart
To speak out what was in him, clear and strong, Alike regardless of their smile or frown, And quite determined not to be laughed down.
“ Plato, anticipating the Reviewers,
From his Republic banished without pity The Poets ; in this little town of yours,
You put to death, by means of a Committee, The ballad-singers and the Troubadours,
The street-musicians of the heavenly city, The birds, who make sweet music for us all In our dark hours, as David did for Saul.
“ The thrush that carols at the dawn of day
From the green steeples of the piny wood;
The oriole in the elm; the noisy jay,
Jargoning like a foreigner at his food;
Flooding with melody the neighborhood ;
“You slay them all! and wherefore? for the gain
Of a scant handful more or less of wheat, Or rye, or barley, or some other grain,
Scratched up at random by industrious feet,
Or a few cherries, that are not so sweet
“Do you ne'er think what wondrous beings these ?
Do you ne'er think who made them, and who taught The dialect they speak, where melodies
Alone are the interpreters of thought ?
Sweeter than instrument of man e'er caught !
“ Think, every morning when the sun peeps through
The dim, leaf-latticed windows of the grove, How jubilant the happy birds renew
Their old, melodious madrigals of love! And when you think of this, remember too
'T is always morning somewhere, and above The awakening continents, from shore to shore, Somewhere the birds are singing evermore.