The Orphan's Song
I had a little bird, I took it from the nest; I prest it, and blest it, And nurst it in my breast. I set it on the ground, I danced round and round, And sang about it so cheerly, With 'Hey my little bird, and ho my little bird, And oh but I love thee dearly!' I make a little feast Of food soft and sweet, I hold it in my breast, And coax it to eat; I pit, and I pat, I call it this and that, And sing about it so cheerly, With 'Hey my little bird, and ho my little bird, And ho but I love thee dearly!' I may kiss, I may sing, But I can't make it feed, It taketh no heed Of any pleasant thing. I scolded, and I socked, But it minded not a whit, Its little mouth was locked, And I could not open it. Tho' with pit, and with pat, And with this, and with that, I sang about it so cheerly, And 'Hey my little bird, and ho my little bird, And ho but I love thee dearly.' But when the day was done, And the room was at rest, And I sat all alone With my birdie in my breast, And the light had fled, And not a sound was heard, Then my little bird Lifted up its head, And the little mouth Loosed its sullen pride, And it opened, it opened, With a yearning strong and wide. Swifter than I speak I brought it food once more, But the poor little beak Was locked as before. I sat down again, And not a creature stirred, I laid the little bird Again where it had lain; And again when nothing stirred, And not a word I said, Then my little bird Lifted up its head, And the little beak Loosed its stubborn pride, And it opened, it opened, With a yearning strong and wide. It lay in my breast, It uttered no cry, 'Twas famished, 'twas famished, And I couldn't tell why. I couldn't tell why, But I saw that it would die, For all that I kept dancing round and round, And singing above it so cheerly, With 'Hey my little bird, and ho my little bird, And ho but I love thee dearly!' I never look sad, I hear what people say, I laugh when they are gay And they think I am glad. My tears never start, I never say a word, But I think that my heart Is like that little bird. Every day I read, And I sing, and I play, But thro' the long day It taketh no heed. It taketh no heed Of any pleasant thing, I know it doth not read, I know it doth not sing. With my mouth I read, With my hands I play, My shut heart is shut, Coax it how you may. You may coax it how you may While the day is broad and bright, But in the dead night When the guests are gone away, And no more the music sweet Up the house doth pass, Nor the dancing feet Shake the nursery glass; And I've heard my aunt Along the corridor, And my uncle gaunt Lock his chamber door; And upon the stair All is hushed and still, And the last wheel Is silent in the square; And the nurses snore, And the dim sheets rise and fall, And the lamplight's on the wall, And the mouse is on the floor; And the curtains of my bed Are like a heavy cloud, And the clock ticks loud, And sounds are in my head; And little Lizzie sleeps Softly at my side, It opens, it opens, With a yearning strong and wide! It yearns in my breast, It utters no cry, 'Tis famished, 'tis famished, And I feel that I shall die, I feel that I shall die, And none will know why. Tho' the pleasant life is dancing round and round And singing about me so cheerly, With 'Hey my little bird, and ho my little bird, And ho but I love thee dearly!'
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