To a Fallen Sparrow

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To a Fallen Sparrow

Postby pitchford » Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:17 pm

Why do the fairest fall? O heart, O heart!
How often must you sigh at senseless pain?
What blows break others, and you feel the smart?
Why bleed you from another's opened vein?
If you could pour in torrents forth a rain
Of your own life in some sad spot apart,
And leave this tear-dimmed vale,
Where only the guiltless suffer, and where rage
The heathen throng and prosper, it were well.
But to be senseless for many a cruel age
Were better than to thrive where sweetlings fail.

Why did you fall? The kite spreads yet his wing
And spies out all things putrefied; the crow
Still belches forth his dissonance; – but sing!
But fly! poor golden-throated bird, struck low
As yet still in your summer-prime, – but sow
The notes of glad forgetfulness, till ring
This broken world with joy.
Your guileless chirp once brightened pain-dulled eyes,
Your flutter-step brought cheer without alloy,
Your feather-form was laughter in blue skies,
And danced like the locks that crowned the maid of Troy.

No more! Your form is eloquent and still,
And testifies, “no more”. The life is gone
That heretofore beat out a pulsing will,
Hush'd now forever. Now the soul is flown,
But still the corpse lies motionless and lone,
A testament that all the fair must fail,
While all the foul survive.
The reddest rose is e'er the first to droop,
The bramble-bush alone is left alive;
The tender tiger lilies start to stoop,
But still the loathsome milkweed dares to thrive.

And so it is with you, O heart of mine!
What moments of pure laughter I had known
Are burst like bubbles; spilt is pleasure's wine,
And at the bottom of the cup's a groan
That will not fade away. Still rots the bone
Though all the marrow's gone. The moldering vine
E'er lingers like a ghost,
Brown, sere, and gaunt, whose grapes were very joy,
But now have vanished like Assyria's host
The Lord struck dead. The charming maid, too coy
To wed, now withers like an empty boast.

Somewhere, a little, living, longed-for pearl
Has formed in one for seven years or more
Thought barren; ah! what chafings shaped the girl,
Her mother's choicest jewel, wrought of ore
She only knows who's wept tears of such store
As flowed from her own eyes – but not one curl
Will grace that darling head:
No sooner has bright hope burst from the womb
Than darksome vanity has struck it dead;
The swaddling-clothes are shrouds now for a tomb,
Joy so long in the kiln so swift has fled.

Why should the child die? On the self-same bed,
An old, grey, lingering whisper of a shade,
For seven years and more as good as dead,
Will drag out achingly a life that's played
Already too, too long, till he who prayed
She might be spared could wish his pleas unsaid!
Methuselah-like is pain,
While pleasure is a mayfly, here today
To flit and laugh in summer's sun, till rain
Take all her sunny laughing-fields away
And trade oblivion's gloom for summer's ray.

Why do the wicked prosper? asked the king;
Would I could hear him now the answer tell!
He who knew full well what sad life can bring,
And watched while all he loved around him fell;
How did he break the endless sorrow-spell
That cast its web around him, crippling?
With what sharp sword in hand
Did he cut off the giant-head Despair,
Bring round a golden age in all the land
And find in woe the seed of all that's fair?
How knew he all pain is for pleasure planned?

No, no, I must not linger, little bird!
I drink too deeply from the Fount of Woe,
My ear's now all a-jumble, while a Word
I can't make out is urging me to go.
Ah, little, tender birdling, could you know
The Promise erst of that sweet psalmist heard,
You'd sweetly sleep in peace:
There's not an innocent who dies in vain,
There's not a stroke but makes joy to increase,
And every death of every fruitful grain
Proves Sunday's hope of everlasting ease.
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:55 pm

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