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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

Why the Robin’s Breast was Red

By James Ryder Randall (1839–1908)

THE SAVIOUR, bowed beneath his cross, climbed up the dreary hill,

And from the agonizing wreath ran many a crimson rill;

The cruel Roman thrust him on with unrelenting hand,

Till, staggering slowly ’mid the crowd, He fell upon the sand.

A little bird that warbled near, that memorable day,

Flitted around and strove to wrench one single thorn away;

The cruel spike impaled his breast,—and thus, ’tis sweetly said,

The Robin has his silver vest incarnadined with red.

Ah, Jesu! Jesu! Son of man! My dolor and my sighs

Reveal the lesson taught by this winged Ishmael of the skies.

I, in the palace of delight or cavern of despair,

Have plucked no thorns from thy dear brow, but planted thousands there!