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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 Little Beach-Bird

By Richard Henry Dana, Sr. (1787–1879)

[From Poems and Prose Writings. Collective Edition. 1850.]

THOU little bird, thou dweller by the sea,

Why takest thou its melancholy voice,

And with that boding cry

Why o’er the waves dost fly?

O, rather, bird, with me

Through the fair land rejoice!

Thy flitting form comes ghostly dim and pale,

As driven by a beating storm at sea;

Thy cry is weak and scared,

As if thy mates had shared

The doom of us: Thy wail,—

What doth it bring to me?

Thou call’st along the sand, and haunt’st the surge,

Restless and sad; as if, in strange accord

With the motion and the roar

Of waves that drive to shore,

One spirit did ye urge—

The Mystery—the Word.

Of thousands, thou, both sepulchre and pall,

Old Ocean! A requiem o’er the dead

From out thy gloomy cells

A tale of mourning tells,—

Tells of man’s woe and fall,

His sinless glory fled.

Then turn thee, little bird, and take thy flight

Where the complaining sea shall sadness bring

Thy spirit never more;

Come, quit with me the shore,

And on the meadows light

Where birds for gladness sing!