Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
 
VI. Animate Nature
The Little Beach Bird
Richard Henry Dana, Sr. (1787–1879)
 
THOU little bird, thou dweller by the sea,
  Why takest thou its melancholy voice?
      Why with that brooding cry
      O’er the waves dost thou fly?
O, rather, bird, with me        5
  Through the fair land rejoice!
 
Thy flitting form comes ghostly dim and pale,
  As driven by a beating storm at sea;
      Thy cry is weak and scared,
      As if thy mates had shared        10
The doom of us. Thy wail—
  What does it bring to me?
 
Thou call’st along the sand, and haunt’st the surge,
  Restless and sad; as if, in strange accord
      With motion and with roar        15
      Of waves that drive to shore,
One spirit did ye urge—
  The Mystery—the Word.
 
Of thousands thou both sepulchre and pall,
  Old ocean, art! A requiem o’er the dead,        20
      From out thy gloomy cells,
      A tale of mourning tells,—
Tells of man’s woe and fall,
  His sinless glory fled.
 
Then turn thee, little bird, and take thy flight        25
  Where the complaining sea shall sadness bring
      Thy spirit nevermore.
      Come, quit with me the shore,
For gladness and the light,
  Where birds of summer sing.        30
 
 
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