Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  The Bobolink

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

The Bobolink

By Thomas Hill (1818–1891)

[Born in New Brunswick, N. J., 1818. Died in Waltham, Mass., 1891.]

BOBOLINK! that in the meadow,

Or beneath the orchard’s shadow,

Keepest up a constant rattle

Joyous as my children’s prattle,

Welcome to the north again!

Welcome to mine ear thy strain,

Welcome to mine eye the sight

Of thy buff, thy black and white!

Brighter plumes may greet the sun

By the banks of Amazon;

Sweeter tones may weave the spell

Of enchanting Philomel;

But the tropic bird would fail,

And the English nightingale,

If we should compare their worth

With thine endless, gushing mirth.

When the ides of May are past,

June and Summer nearing fast,

While from depths of blue above

Comes the mighty breath of love,

Calling out each bud and flower

With resistless, secret power,

Waking hope and fond desire,

Kindling the erotic fire,

Filling youths’ and maidens’ dreams

With mysterious, pleasing themes;

Then, amid the sunlight clear

Floating in the fragrant air,

Thou dost fill each heart with pleasure

By thy glad ecstatic measure.

A single note, so sweet and low,

Like a full heart’s overflow,

Forms the prelude; but the strain

Gives no such tone again,

For the wild and saucy song

Leaps and skips the notes among,

With such quick and sportive play,

Ne’er was madder, merrier lay.

Gayest songster of the Spring!

Thy melodies before me bring

Visions of some dream-built land,

Where, by constant zephyrs fanned,

I might walk the livelong day,

Embosomed in perpetual May.

Nor care nor fear thy bosom knows;

For thee a tempest never blows;

But when our northern Summer’s o’er,

By Delaware’s or Schuylkill’s shore

The wild rice lifts its airy head,

And royal feasts for thee are spread.

And when the Winter threatens there,

Thy tireless wings yet own no fear,

But bear thee to more southern coasts,

Far beyond the reach of frosts.

Bobolink! still may thy gladness

Take from me all taints of sadness;

Fill my soul with trust unshaken

In that Being who has taken

Care for every living thing,

In Summer, Winter, Fall, and Spring.