1830 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Wilson

A., "Alexander Wilson" The Ariel [Philadelphia] 4 (1 May 1830) 8.



MR. EDITOR.

I was in the Swede's Churchyard on Sunday morning last. A crowd of half a dozen persons, strangers to each other, were gathered round the grave of Alexander Wilson, the well known Ornithologist, attentively reading his epitaph. Suddenly a Blue Bird and his mate flew up into a tree close to the tomb, and sang aloud over our heads — realizing the romantic wish of the lamented Wilson, that he might be buried where the birds of Spring should warble over his grave! The touching nature of the incident was felt by all who witnessed it; and returning home, I copied the following very tender lines to the Blue Bird, by Wilson, which are sent to you for republication, as appropriate to this invigorating season of the year.

Yours, A.

TO THE BLUE BIRD.
BY WILSON
When winter's cold tempests and snows are no more,
Green meadows and brown furrow'd fields re-appearing,
The fishermen hauling their shad to the shore,
And cloud-cleaving geese to the lakes are a-steering;
When first the lone butterfly flits on the wing;
When red glow the maples, so fresh and so pleasing,
O then comes the Blue Bird, the herald of Spring!
And hails with his warblings the charms of the season.

Then loud piping frogs make the marshes to ring;
Then warm glows the sunshine, and fine is the weather;
The blue woodland flowers just beginning to spring,
And spicewood and sassafras budding together;
O then to your gardens ye housewives repair!
Your walks border up; sow and plant at your leisure;
The blue bird will chant from his box such an air,
That all your hard toils will seem truly a pleasure.

He flits through the orchard, he visits each tree,
The red flowering peach and the apple's sweet blossoms;
He snaps up destroyers wherever they be,
And seizes the caitiffs that lurk in their bosoms;
He drags the vile grub from the corn it devours;
The worms from their webs where they riot and welter;
His song and his services freely are ours,
And all that he asks is, in summer a shelter.

The ploughman is pleased when he gleans in his train,
Now searching the furrows — now mounting to cheer him;
The gard'ner delights in his sweet simple strain,
And leans on his spade to survey and to hear him;
The slow, ling'ring school-boys forget they'll be chid,
While gazing intent as he warbles before 'em
In mantle of sky-blue and bosom so red,
That each little loiterer seems to adore him.

When all the gay scenes of summer are o'er,
And autumn slow enters so silent and sallow,
And millions of warblers, that charm'd us before,
Have fled in the train of the sun-seeking swallow;
The blue bird forsaken, yet true to his home,
Still lingers, and looks for a milder to-morrow,
Till forced by the horrors of winter to roam,
He sings his adieu in a lone note of sorrow.

While spring's lovely season, serene, dewy, and warm,
The green face of earth, and the pure blue of heav'n,
Or love's native music have influence to charm,
Or sympathy's glow to our feelings is giv'n,
Still dear to each bosom the blue bird shall be;
His voice, like the thrillings of hope, is a treasure;
For, through bleakest storms if a calm he but see,
He comes to remind us of sunshine and pleasure!