Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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THE CONTRAST

THE PARROT AND THE WREN

                                   I

          WITHIN her gilded cage confined,
          I saw a dazzling Belle,
          A Parrot of that famous kind
          Whose name is NON-PAREIL.

          Like beads of glossy jet her eyes;
          And, smoothed by Nature's skill,
          With pearl or gleaming agate vies
          Her finely-curved bill.

          Her plumy mantle's living hues
          In mass opposed to mass,                                    10
          Outshine the splendour that imbues
          The robes of pictured glass.

          And, sooth to say, an apter Mate
          Did never tempt the choice
          Of feathered Thing most delicate
          In figure and in voice.

          But, exiled from Australian bowers,
          And singleness her lot,
          She trills her song with tutored powers,
          Or mocks each casual note.                                  20

          No more of pity for regrets
          With which she may have striven!
          Now but in wantonness she frets,
          Or spite, if cause be given;

          Arch, volatile, a sportive bird
          By social glee inspired;
          Ambitious to be seen or heard,
          And pleased to be admired!

                                   II

          THIS moss-lined shed, green, soft, and dry,
          Harbours a self-contented Wren,                             30
          Not shunning man's abode, though shy,
          Almost as thought itself, of human ken.

          Strange places, coverts unendeared,
          She never tried; the very nest
          In which this Child of Spring was reared,
          Is warmed, thro' winter, by her feathery breast.

          To the bleak winds she sometimes gives
          A slender unexpected strain;
          Proof that the hermitess still lives,
          Though she appear not, and be sought in vain.               40

          Say, Dora! tell me, by yon placid moon,
          If called to choose between the favoured pair,
          Which would you be,--the bird of the saloon
          By lady-fingers tended with nice care,
          Caressed, applauded, upon dainties fed,
          Or Nature's DARKLING of this mossy shed?
                                                              1825.


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