The Birds Of Spring - Prose Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


by Geoffrey Crayon GentA
My quiet residence in the country aloof from fashion politics and the money market leaves me rather at a loss for important occupation and drives me to the study of nature and other low pursuits Having few neighbors also on whom to keep a watch and exercise my habits of observation I am fain to amuse myself with prying into the domestic concerns and peculiarities of the animals around me and during the present season have derived considerable entertainment from certain sociable little birds almost the only visitors we have during this early part of the yearB
Those who have passed the winter in the country are sensible of the delightful influences that accompany the earliest indications of spring and of these none are more delightful than the first notes of the birds There is one modest little sad colored bird much resembling a wren which came about the house just on the skirts of winter when not a blade of grass was to be seen and when a few prematurely warm days had given a flattering foretaste of soft weather He sang early in the dawning long before sun rise and late in the evening just before the closing in of night his matin and his vesper hymns It is true he sang occasionally throughout the day but at these still hours his song was more remarked He sat on a leafless tree just before the window and warbled forth his notes free and simple but singularly sweet with something of a plaintive tone that heightened their effect The first morning that he was heard was a joyous one among the young folks of my household The long deathlike sleep of winter was at an end nature was once more awakening they now promised themselves the immediate appearance of buds and blossoms I was reminded of the tempest tossed crew of Columbus when after their long dubious voyage the field birds came singing round the ship though still far at sea rejoicing them with the belief of the immediate proximity of land A sharp return of winter almost silenced my little songster and dashed the hilarity of the household yet still he poured forth now and then a few plaintive notes between the frosty pipings of the breeze like gleams of sunshine between wintry cloudsC
I have consulted my book of ornithology in vain to find out the name of this kindly little bird who certainly deserves honor and favor far beyond his modest pretensions He comes like the lowly violet the most unpretending but welcomest of flowers breathing the sweet promise of the early yearB
Another of our feathered visitors who follows close upon the steps of winter is the Pe wit or Pe wee or Phoebe bird for he is called by each of these names from a fancied resemblance to the sound of his monotonous note He is a sociable little being and seeks the habitation of man A pair of them have built beneath my porch and have reared several broods there for two years past their nest being never disturbed They arrive early in the spring just when the crocus and the snow drop begin to peep forth Their first chirp spreads gladness through the house The Phoebe birds have come is heard on all sides they are welcomed back like members of the family and speculations are made upon where they have been and what countries they have seen during their long absence Their arrival is the more cheering as it is pronounced by the old weather wise people of the country the sure sign that the severe frosts are at an end and that the gardener may resume his labors with confidenceD
About this time too arrives the blue bird so poetically yet truly described by Wilson His appearance gladdens the whole landscape You hear his soft warble in every field He sociably approaches your habitation and takes up his residence in your vicinity But why should I attempt to describe him when I have Wilson's own graphic verses to place him before the readerE
When winter's cold tempests and snows are no moreF
Green meadows and brown furrowed fields re appearingG
The fishermen hauling their shad to the shoreF
And cloud cleaving geese to the lakes are a steeringG
When first the lone butterfly flits on the wingG
When red glow the maples so fresh and so pleasingG
O then comes the blue bird the herald of springG
And hails with his warblings the charms of the seasonH
The loud piping frogs make the marshes to ringG
Then warm glows the sunshine and warm glows the weatherE
The blue woodland flowers just beginning to springG
And spice wood and sassafras budding togetherE
O then to your gardens ye housewives repairI
Your walks border up sow and plant at your leisureE
The blue bird will chant from his box such an airI
That all your hard toils will seem truly a pleasureE
He flits through the orchard he visits each treeJ
The red flowering peach and the apple's sweet blossomsK
He snaps up destroyers wherever they beJ
And seizes the caitiffs that lurk in their bosomsK
He drags the vile grub from the corn it devoursK
The worms from the webs where they riot and welterE
His song and his services freely are oursK
And all that he asks is in summer a shelterE
The ploughman is pleased when he gleams in his trainL
Now searching the furrows now mounting to cheer himM
The gard'ner delights in his sweet simple strainL
And leans on his spade to survey and to hear himM
The slow lingering school boys forget they'll be chidA
While gazing intent as he warbles before themN
In mantle of sky blue and bosom so redA
That each little loiterer seems to adore himM
The happiest bird of our spring however and one that rivals the European lark in my estimation is the Boblincon or Boblink as he is commonly called He arrives at that choice portion of our year which in this latitude answers to the description of the month of May so often given by the poets With us it begins about the middle of May and lasts until nearly the middle of June Earlier than this winter is apt to return on its traces and to blight the opening beauties of the year and later than this begin the parching and panting and dissolving heats of summer But in this genial interval nature is in all her freshness and fragrance the rains are over and gone the flowers appear upon the earth the time of the singing of birds is come and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land The trees are now in their fullest foliage and brightest verdure the woods are gay with the clustered flowers of the laurel the air is perfumed by the sweet briar and the wild rose the meadows are enamelled with clover blossoms while the young apple the peach and the plum begin to swell and the cherry to glow among the green leavesK
This is the chosen season of revelry of the Boblink He comes amidst the pomp and fragrance of the season his life seems all sensibility and enjoyment all song and sunshine He is to be found in the soft bosoms of the freshest and sweetest meadows and is most in song when the clover is in blossom He perches on the topmost twig of a tree or on some long flaunting weed and as he rises and sinks with the breeze pours forth a succession of rich tinkling notes crowding one upon another like the outpouring melody of the skylark and possessing the same rapturous character Sometimes he pitches from the summit of a tree begins his song as soon as he gets upon the wing and flutters tremulously down to the earth as if overcome with ecstasy at his own music Sometimes he is in pursuit of his paramour always in full song as if he would win her by his melody and always with the same appearance of intoxication and delightA
Of all the birds of our groves and meadows the Boblink was the envy of my boyhood He crossed my path in the sweetest weather and the sweetest season of the year when all nature called to the fields and the rural feeling throbbed in every bosom but when I luckless urchin was doomed to be mewed up during the livelong day in that purgatory of boyhood a school room It seemed as if the little varlet mocked at me as he flew by in full song and sought to taunt me with his happier lot Oh how I envied him No lessons no tasks no hateful school nothing but holiday frolic green fields and fine weather Had I been then more versed in poetry I might have addressed him in the words of Logan to the cuckooO
Sweet bird thy bower is ever greenP
Thy sky is ever clearB
Thou hast no sorrow in thy noteA
No winter in thy yearB
Oh could I fly I'd fly with theeJ
We'd make on joyful wingG
Our annual visit round the globeQ
Companions of the springG
Farther observation and experience have given me a different idea of this little feathered voluptuary which I will venture to impart for the benefit of my school boy readers who may regard him with the same unqualified envy and admiration which I once indulged I have shown him only as I saw him at first in what I may call the poetical part of his career when he in a manner devoted himself to elegant pursuits and enjoyments and was a bird of music and song and taste and sensibility and refinement While this lasted he was sacred from injury the very school boy would not fling a stone at him and the merest rustic would pause to listen to his strain But mark the difference As the year advances as the clover blossoms disappear and the spring fades into summer his notes cease to vibrate on the ear He gradually gives up his elegant tastes and habits doffs his poetical and professional suit of black assumes a russet or rather dusty garb and enters into the gross enjoyments of common vulgar birds He becomes a bon vivant a mere gourmand thinking of nothing but good cheer and gormandizing on the seeds of the long grasses on which he lately swung and chaunted so musically He begins to think there is nothing like the joys of the table if I may be allowed to apply that convivial phrase to his indulgences He now grows discontented with plain every day fare and sets out on a gastronomical tour in search of foreign luxuries He is to be found in myriads among the reeds of the Delaware banqueting on their seeds grows corpulent with good feeding and soon acquires the unlucky renown of the ortolan Whereever he goes pop pop pop the rusty firelocks of the country are cracking on every side he sees his companions falling by the thousands around him he is the reed bird the much sought for tit bit of the Pennsylvanian epicureR
Does he take warning and reform Not he He wings his flight still farther south in search of other luxuries We hear of him gorging himself in the rice swamps filling himself with rice almost to bursting he can hardly fly for corpulency Last stage of his career we hear of him spitted by dozens and served up on the table of the gourmand the most vaunted of southern dainties the rice bird of the CarolinasK
Such is the story of the once musical and admired but finally sensual and persecuted Boblink It contains a moral worthy the attention of all little birds and little boys warning them to keep to those refined and intellectual pursuits which raised him to so high a pitch of popularity during the early part of his career but to eschew all tendency to that gross and dissipated indulgence which brought this mistaken little bird to an untimely endA
Which is all at present from the well wisher of little boys and little birdsK

Washington Irving


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