A Hymn of Empire and Other Poems

by Frederick George Scott




O SINGING birds, O singing birds, ye sing in field and sky
The simple songs of love and joy ye sang in days gone by;
I hear you in the meadows now and up the mountain stream,
And as I listen to your voice I dream an old-world dream.

O singing birds, O singing birds, ye sang in ancient Greece

Ere Paris found the fatal fruit, or Jason sought the fleece;
And from the Attic mountain tops ye saw the dawn uprise,
Her feet upon the golden sea and wonder in her eyes.

Ye heard the shepherd pipe at dawn, and piped again with him
Until the flocks came winding out where forest glades were dim;

Ye sang in dewy dell and woke the wild-flower from its dream,
And watched the fauns and satyrs dance beside the woodland stream.

Ye sang your songs at noonday when Athenian crews went down
Between the dusty walls that joined Peiræus with the town,
Until across the sparkling deep the triremes sailed away,

And up Poseidon’s altar steps the women went to pray.

Ye sang your songs at eventide when on the sacred hill
The light was slowly dying down and mists were sleeping still;
While two by two the maidens went, with lilies in their hand,
And asked each other of the love they could not understand.


And in the night, when stars looked down and herds were gathered in,
And little brooks with tinkling voice made music clear and thin,
At intervals your note again would thrill the forest’s rest,
When dreamland fancies woke your joy or breezes stirred your nest.

O singing birds, O singing birds, who pipe in shade and sun,

Ye fill the world with gladness still, ye bind us all in one;
Your songs are of untroubled days, of mornings glad and free,
And merry rivers leaping down the mountains to the sea.

O singing birds, O singing birds, the ages pass away,
The world is growing old, and we grow older day by day;

Pour out your deathless songs again to men of every tongue,
And wake the music in man’s heart that keeps the old world young.