A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Birds of Passage" by Felicia Hemans (1793-1835) Records of Woman: With Other Poems. Edinburgh: William Blackwood, & London: T. Cadell, 1828, second edition. pp. 299-301.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


[Page 299] 

THE BIRDS OF PASSAGE.


BIRDS, joyous birds of the wandering wing!
Whence is it ye come with the flowers of spring?
–"We come from the shores of the green old Nile,
From the land where the roses of Sharon smile,
From the palms that wave thro' the Indian sky,
From the myrrh-trees of glowing Araby.

"We have swept o'er cities in song renown'd,–
Silent they lie with the deserts round!
We have cross'd proud rivers, whose tide hath roll'd
All dark with the warrior-blood of old;
And each worn wing hath regain'd its home,
Under peasant's roof-tree, or monarch's dome."

[Page 300] 

And what have ye found in the monarch's dome,
Since last ye travers'd the blue sea's foam?
–"We have found a change, we have found a pall,
And a gloom o'ershadowing the banquet's hall,
And a mark on the floor as of life-drops spilt,–
Nought looks the same, save the nest we built!"

Oh! joyous birds, it hath still been so;
Thro' the halls of kings doth the tempest go!
But the huts of the hamlet lie still and deep,
And the hills o'er their quiet a vigil keep.–
Say what have ye found in the peasant's cot,
Since last ye parted from that sweet spot?

"A change we have found there–and many a change!
Faces, and footsteps, and all things strange!
Gone are the heads of the silvery hair,
And the young that were, have a brow of care,
And the place is hush'd where the children play'd,–
Nought looks the same, save the nest we made!"

[Page 301] 

Sad is your tale of the beautiful earth,
Birds that o'ersweep it in power and mirth!
Yet thro' the wastes of the trackless air,
Ye have a Guide, and shall we despair?
Ye over desert and deep have pass'd,–
So may we reach our bright home at last!

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom