Menella Bute Smedley

In the Fields

Airy budding ash-tree,
You have made a throne,
And the sweetest thrush in all the world
Is sitting there alone;
Drawn in tints of tender brown
Against a keen blue sky,
He sings up and he sings down,
Who can pass him by?

Through the thin leaves thrilling
Goes each glittering note,
Hearts of all happy trees are drawn
Into this one bird-throat;
And all the growing blooms of morn
(This music is so strong)
Are reach'd and blended and upborne
And utter'd into song.
Now he asks a question!
The answer who can guess—
While sparrows chirp their pettish “No,”
And daws keep murmuring “Yes”?
“Oh, will the months be kind and clear,
Unvex'd by needless rain;
And will the Summer last this year
Till Spring comes back again?”

Now he states a dogma!
His view of day and night;
Proclaiming volubly and loud
No other bird is right.
But halfway through his creed he checks
At some sweet chance of sound,
And, catching that, no longer recks
If heaven or earth go round.
Now he labours gravely,
Each moment pays itself,
No singer ever work'd so hard
For art or fame or pelf;
And now he knows the pretty phrase
And scatters it like rain,
With quick “Da Capos” of self-praise,
Till the tree rings again.

He pleads, he laughs, he argues,
He shouts to sky and earth;
The wild notes trip each other up
In ecstasies of mirth;
He drinks the azure of the air,
He tosses song about,
Like a girl's tangle of gold-hair,
Spray-wet and shaken out.
O world! when spring is shining
And dark winds stand aside,
Let men think of you as they may,
The birds are satisfied;
Their dauntless hymns of hope arise
With such a wealth of will;
Though every year the summer dies,
They trust her promise still.

Airy budding ash-tree,
Try to show your power,
Make a leaf for each gay note
He makes in half an hour!
Wild flowers in the grass, be taught
The music of your parts;
Make a bud for each bright thought
He gives to passing hearts!

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