Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The Waking of the Lark
 
Eric Mackay (b. 1851)
 
 
O BONNIE bird, that in the brake, exultant, dost prepare thee,
As poets do whose thoughts are true, for wings that will upbear thee—
  Oh! tell me, tell me, bonnie bird,
  Canst thou not pipe of hope deferred?
Or canst thou sing of naught but Spring among the golden meadows?        5
 
Methinks a bard (and thou art one) should suit his song to sorrow,
And tell of pain, as well as gain, that waits us on the morrow;
  But thou art not a prophet, thou,
  If naught but joy can touch thee now;
If, in thy heart, thou hast no vow that speaks of Nature’s anguish.        10
 
Oh! I have held my sorrows dear, and felt, though poor and slighted,
The songs we love are those we hear when love is unrequited;
  But thou art still the slave of dawn,
  And canst not sing till night be gone,
Till o’er the pathway of the fawn the sun-beams shine and quiver.        15
 
Thou art the minion of the sun that rises in his splendor,
And canst not spare for Dian fair the songs that should attend her.
  The moon, so sad and silver-pale,
  Is mistress of the nightingale;
And thou wilt sing on hill and dale no ditties in the darkness.        20
 
For Queen and King thou wilt not spare one note of thine outpouring;
And thou’rt as free as breezes be on Nature’s velvet flooring.
  The daisy, with its hood undone,
  The grass, the sunlight, and the sun—
These are the joys, thou holy one, that pay thee for thy singing.        25
 
Oh, hush! Oh, hush! how wild a gush of rapture in the distance—
A roll of rhymes, a toll of chimes, a cry for love’s assistance;
  A sound that wells from happy throats,
  A flood of song where beauty floats,
And where our thoughts, like golden boats, do seem to cross a river.        30
 
This is the advent of the lark—the priest in gray apparel—
Who doth prepare to trill in air his sinless summer carol;
  This is the prelude to the lay
  The birds did sing in Cæsar’s day,
And will again, for aye and aye, in praise of God’s creation.        35
 
O dainty thing, on wonder’s wing, by life and love elated,
Oh! sing aloud from cloud to cloud, till day be consecrated;
  Till from the gateways of the morn,
  The sun, with all his light unshorn,
His robes of darkness round him torn, doth scale the lofty heavens!        40
 

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