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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 Bobolinks

By Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813–1892)

[From The Bird and the Bell, with other Poems. 1875.]

WHEN Nature had made all her birds,

With no more cares to think on,

She gave a rippling laugh, and out

There flew a Bobolinkon.

She laughed again; out flew a mate;

A breeze of Eden bore them

Across the fields of Paradise,

The sunrise reddening o’er them.

Incarnate sport and holiday,

They flew and sang forever:

Their souls through June were all in tune,

Their wings were weary never.

Their tribe, still drunk with air and light,

And perfume of the meadow,

Go reeling up and down the sky,

In sunshine and in shadow.

One springs from out the dew-wet grass;

Another follows after;

The morn is thrilling with their songs

And peals of merry laughter.

From out the marshes and the brook,

They set the tall reeds swinging,

And meet, and frolic in the air,

Half prattling and half singing.

When morning winds sweep meadow-lands

In green and russet billows,

And toss the lonely elm-tree’s boughs,

And silver all the willows,

I see you buffeting the breeze,

Or with its motion swaying,

Your notes half drowned against the wind

Or down the current playing.

When far away o’er grassy flats,

Where the thick wood commences,

The white-sleeved mowers look like specks

Beyond the zigzag fences,

And noon is hot, and barn-roofs gleam

White in the pale blue distance,

I hear the saucy minstrels still

In chattering persistence.

When Eve her domes of opal fire

Piles round the blue horizon,

Or thunder rolls from hill to hill

A Kyrie Eleison,

Still merriest of the merry birds,

Your sparkle is unfading;—

Pied harlequins of June,—no end

Of song and masquerading.

What cadences of bubbling mirth,

Too quick for bar and rhythm!

What ecstasies, too full to keep

Coherent measure with them!

O could I share, without champagne

Or muscadel, your frolic,

The glad delirium of your joy,

Your fun unapostolic,

Your drunken jargon through the fields,

Your bobolonkish gabble,

Your fine Anacreontic glee,

Your tipsy reveller’s babble!

Nay, let me not profane such joy

With similes of folly;

No wine of earth could waken songs

So delicately jolly!

O boundless self-contentment, voiced

In flying air-born bubbles!

O joy that mocks our sad unrest,

And drowns our earth-born troubles!

Hope springs with you: I dread no more

Despondency and dullness;

For Good Supreme can never fail

That gives such perfect fullness.

The life that floods the happy fields

With song and light and color

Will shape our lives to richer states,

And heap our measures fuller.