Later Poems

by Bliss Carman


The Choristers


WHEN earth was finished and fashioned well,
There was never a musical note to tell
How glad God was, save the voice of the rain
And the sea and the wind on the lonely plain
And the rivers among the hills.
And so God made the marvellous birds
For a choir of joy transcending words,
That the world might hear and comprehend
How rhythm and harmony can mend
The spirits’ hurts and ills.

He filled their tiny bodies with fire,
He taught them love for their chief desire,
And gave them the magic of wings to be
His celebrants over land and sea,
Wherever man might dwell.
And to each he apportioned a fragment of song—
Those broken melodies that belong
To the seraphs’ chorus, that we might learn
The healing of gladness and discern
In beauty how all is well.

So music dwells in the glorious throats
Forever, and the enchanted notes
Fall with rapture upon our ears,
Moving our hearts to joy and tears
For things we cannot say.
In the wilds the whitethroat sings in the rain
His pure, serene, half-wistful strain;
And when twilight falls the sleeping hills
Ring with the cry of the whippoorwills
In the blue dusk far away.

In the great white heart of the winter storm
The chickadee sings, for his heart is warm,
And his note is brave to rally the soul
From doubt and panic to self-control
And elation that knows no fear.
The bluebird comes with the winds of March,
Like a shred of sky on the naked larch;
The redwing follows the April rain
To whistle contentment back again
With his sturdy call of cheer.

The orioles revel through orchard boughs
In their coats of gold for spring’s carouse;
In shadowy pastures the bobwhites call,
And the flute of the thrush has a melting fall
Under the evening star.
On the verge of June when peonies blow
And joy comes back to the world we know,
The bobolinks fill the fields of light
With a tangle of music silver-bright
To tell how glad they are.

The tiny warblers fill summer trees
With their exquisite lesser litanies;
The tanager in his scarlet coat
In the hemlock pours from a vibrant throat
His canticle of the sun.
The loon on the lake, the hawk in the sky,
And the sea-gull—each has a piercing cry,
Like outposts set in the lonely vast
To cry “all’s well” as Time goes past
And another hour is gone.

But of all the music in God’s plan
Of a mystical symphony for man,
I shall remember best of all—
Whatever hereafter may befall
Or pass and cease to be—
The hermit’s hymn in the solitudes
Of twilight through the mountain woods,
And the field-larks crying about our doors
On the soft sweet wind across the moors
At morning by the sea.