Last Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey


 

ORNITHOLOGY


 

SWEETHEART, do you see up yonder through the leaves
The elm tree interweaves,
How that cock-sparrow chases his brown mate?
Look, where she perches now
Upon the bough
5
And turns her head to see if he pursue her,
Half frightened, half elate
To have so bold and beautiful a wooer.
See, he alights beside her. How his wings
Quiver with amorous passionings!
10
How voluble their chattering courtship is!
Soon will he know
Love’s joys in overflow,
Love’s extreme ecstasies.

No, off she flies!
15
Just as she seemed about to be subdued
To his impetuous desire!
How angrily he scolds, with wicked eyes
Following her flight, and turns his tiny ire
Against the innocent tree and pecks the wood!
20
While she—ah, the coquette!—
Lurks yonder in the cleft where the great tree
Breaks into boughs, and peeps about to see
If he is coming yet.
She’s in for a game of lovers’ hide-and-seek,
25
And longs to have him find the hiding-place,
Although she feigns concealment, so to pique
His passion to a chase.

In vain—he will not look
For all her sweet allurements. Out she whisks

30
Demurely from her nook,
As if she did not see and were not seen,
And perks herself and frisks
Her delicate tail as a lady flirts her Ian,
And now slips back again to her retreat
35
And waits for one hushed moment in serene
Unfluttered expectation that the plan
Have issue sweet.
What, will he not come yet?
See how she glances at him unawares,
40
Tosses her head and gives herself high airs
In such a pretty pet.

Cruel! he turns away,
Affecting unconcern.
All those endearing wiles are wrought in vain.

45
Alas, unlucky flirt! too late you learn
That long delays will make the eagerest lover
Aweary of pursuing. Nay,
Too late you fly half way to him again.
You will not so recover
50
The passion that you played with. Off he flies
And now is lost in the thick shade
Of lilac bushes further down the glade.
Another mistress charms his amorous eyes.
Have a care, sweetheart, or as he some day
55
I too will fly away.