Verse > Anthologies > Fuess and Stearns, eds. > The Little Book of Society Verse
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Fuess and Stearns, comps.  The Little Book of Society Verse.  1922.
 
Avice
By Austin Dobson
 
THOUGH the voice of modern schools
            Has demurred,
By the dreamy Asian creed
            ’T is averred,
That the souls of men, released        5
From their bodies when deceased,
Sometimes enter in a beast,—
            Or a bird.
 
I have watched you long, Avice,—
            Watched you so,        10
I have found your secret out;
            And I know
That the restless ribboned things,
Where your slope of shoulder springs,
Are but undeveloped wings        15
            That will grow.
 
When you enter in a room,
            It is stirred
With the wayward, flashing flight
            Of a bird;        20
And you speak—and bring with you
Leaf and sun-ray, bud and blue,
And the wind-breath and the dew,
            At a word.
 
When you called to me my name,        25
            Then again
When I heard your single cry
            In the lane,
All the sound was as the “sweet”
Which the birds to birds repeat        30
In their thank-song to the heat
            After rain.
 
When you sang the Schwalbenlied,
            ’T was absurd,—
But it seemed no human note        35
            That I heard;
For your strain had all the trills,
All the little shakes and stills,
Of the over-song that rills
            From a bird.        40
 
You have just their eager, quick
            “Airs de tête,”
All their flush and fever-heat
            When elate;
Every bird-like nod and beck,        45
And a bird’s own curve of neck
When she gives a little peck
            To her mate.
 
When you left me, only now,
            In that furred,        50
Puffed, and feathered Polish dress,
            I was spurred
Just to catch you, O my sweet,
By the bodice trim and neat,—
Just to feel your heart abeat,        55
            Like a bird.
 
Yet, alas! Love’s light you deign
            But to wear
As the dew upon your plumes,
            And you care        60
Not a whit for rest or hush;
But the leaves, the lyric gush,
And the wing-power, and the rush
            Of the air.
 
So I dare not woo you, Sweet,        65
            For a day,
Lest I lose you in a flash,
            As I may;
Did I tell you tender things,
You would shake your sudden wings;—        70
You would start from him who sings,
            And away.
 
 
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