Let others from the feathered brood
Which through the garden seeks its food
Pick out for a commending word
Each one his own peculiar bird;
Hail the plump tit, or fitly sing
The finch's crest and flashing wing;
Exalt the rook's black satin dress-coat,
The thrush's speckled fancy waistcoat;
Or praise the robin, meek, but sly,
For breast and tail and friendly eye-
These have their place within my heart;
The sparrow owns the larger part,
And, for no virtues, rules in it,
My reckless cheerful favourite!
Friend sparrow, let the world contemn
Your ways and make a mock of them,
And dub you, if it has a mind,
Low, quarrelsome, and unrefined;
And let it, if it will, pursue
With harsh abuse the troops of you
Who through the orchard and the field
Their busy bills in mischief wield;
Who strip the tilth and bare the tree,
And make the gardener's face to be
Expressive of the words he could,
But must not, utter, though he would
(For gardeners still, where'er they go,
Whate'er they do, in weal or woe,
Through every chance of life retain
Their ancient Puritanic strain;
Tried by the weather they control
Each day their angry human soul,
And, by the sparrow teased, may tear
Their careworn locks, but never swear).
Let us admit-alas,'tis true-
You are not adequately few;
That half your little life is spent
In furious strife or argument;
Still, though your wickedness must harrow
All feeling souls, I love my sparrow;
Still, though I oft and gravely doubt you,
I really could not do without you.
Your pluck, your wit, your nonchalance,
Your cheerful confidence in chance,
Your darting flight, your bouts of play,
Your chirp, so sociable and gay-
These, and no beauty soft or striking,
Make up your passport to my liking;
And for your faults I'll still defend you,
My little sparrow, and befriend you.