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Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


The Under-Tone


In the dull, dim dawn of day I heard
The twitter and thrill of a brown-backed bird,
As he sat and sang in the leafless tree,
A herald of beautiful days to be.

But the minor running under the strain
Went to my heart with a sudden pain,
For never so sad a sound I heard
As the troubled thrill of the brown-backed bird.

Not in the wearisome wash of waves,
With moaning murmur of wrecks and graves,
Not in the weird windsТ wildest wail,
Not in the roar of the rushing gale.

Not in the sob of dying years
Are sounds so solemn and full of tears.
O herald of days that are green and glad,
Why was your morning song so sad?

Have you a secret hidden away,
Of sorrow to come with a coming day?
Folded under a folded leaf,
Lies there trouble and bitter grief?

The shadow of death, and tears, and gloom
Coming to me when roses bloom?
Will the beautiful days I long for so
Hold like your song a strain of woe?

What is the secret you hide from me
O herald of days that are to be?
And why was that desolate minor moan
Lurking under your gladdest tone?



Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Ella Wheeler Wilcox's other poems:
  1. The Birth of the Opal
  2. The Awakening (I love the tropics, where sun and rain)
  3. The Chain
  4. At Forty-Eight
  5. Artist and Man


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