Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  Lament of a Mocking-Bird,

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Lament of a Mocking-Bird,

By Frances Anne Kemble (1809–1893)

SILENCE instead of thy sweet song, my bird,

Which through the darkness of my winter days

Warbling of summer sunshine still was heard;

Mute is thy song, and vacant is thy place.

The spring comes back again, the fields rejoice,

Carols of gladness ring from every tree;

But I shall hear thy wild triumphant voice

No more: my summer song has died with thee.

What didst thou sing of, oh, my summer bird?

The broad, bright, brimming river, whose swift sweep

And whirling eddies by the home are heard,

Rushing, resistless, to the calling deep.

What didst thou sing of, thou melodious sprite?

Pine forests, with smooth russet carpets spread,

Where e’en at noonday dimly falls the light,

Through gloomy blue-green branches overhead.

What didst thou sing of, oh, thou jubilant soul?

Ever-fresh flowers and never-leafless trees,

Bending great ivory cups to the control

Of the soft swaying orange-scented breeze.

What didst thou sing of, thou embodied glee?

The wide wild marshes with their clashing reeds

And topaz-tinted channels, where the sea

Daily its tides of briny freshness leads.

What didst thou sing of, oh, thou wingèd voice?

Dark, bronze-leaved oaks, with silver mosses crowned,

Where thy free kindred live, love, and rejoice,

With wreaths of golden jasmine curtained round.

These didst thou sing of, spirit of delight!

From thy own radiant sky, thou quivering spark!

These thy sweet southern dreams of warmth and light,

Through the grim northern winter drear and dark.