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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Poems. V. The Bird and the Bee

James Drummond Burns (1823–1864)

THE BIRD is your true Poet. I have seen him,

When the snow wrapped his seeds, and not a crumb

Was in his larder, perch upon a branch,

And sing from his brave heart a song of trust

In Providence, who feeds him though he sows not,

Nor gathers into barns. Whate’er his fears

Or sorrows be, his spirit bears him up;

Cares ne’er o’ermaster him, for ’tis his wont

To stifle them with music. Out of sight

He buries them in the depths of his sweet song,

And gives them a melodious sepulture.

He teaches me philosophy,—yea, more,

He leads me up to Faith. Your busy Bee

No favourite is of mine. There is no music

In that monotonous hum. To me it seems

A trumpet, which the little Pharisee

Sounds, that the common people of the field

May well regard his industry, and mark

How he improves the sunshine. Even that song

Dies with the flowers; for when the dreary days

Of Winter come, he folds his wing to lie

In his luxurious halls, and there amidst

His magazines of daintiest food, and vaults

Brimming with luscious amber-coloured wine,

The spiritless sluggard dreams away his hours;

Or if he wake, ’tis but to gorge himself

In solitude, with the rich cloying fare

Of an exclusive feast. His hospitality

No stranger ever shares. Heedless he sees

His mates of Summer droop and starve before

His frozen gates. He revels deep within;

Without they die: yet the small misanthrope

Shall guard his treasures with a surly sting!