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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

William James Dawson b. 1854

Bird’s Song at Morning

O THOU that cleavest heaven

With such unmastered flight,

To whom the fates have given

For sport the sky’s blue height;

Where cloud with cloud is meeting,

I see thy bright wings beating,

And flashing and retreating

Against the morning light!

No toilsome task thou knowest,

No day with tears begun,

Lighthearted forth thou goest

At morn to meet the sun;

All day thy song thou triest

From lowest note to highest,

And all unweary fliest

Until the day be done.

Thou knowest no toil for raiment,

No pain of mocked desire;

The skies are thy song’s payment,

The sun thy throne of fire.

Thou askest and receivest,

And if perchance thou grievest,

At will the world thou leavest

On wings that never tire.

Yet we of grosser stature

Have in thy flight a part,

We share thy tameless nature,

We have a nobler art.

When thou art tired returning,

There mount in love and yearning,

Toward suns of keener burning,

The winged thoughts of our heart.

Within our souls are folden

The wings thou canst not share,

We see a dawn more golden,

We breathe diviner air:

In sleep when toil is ended,

In prayer with hope attended,

We traverse ways more splendid,

And see a world more fair.

Yet oft, when day is gleaming

On sleepless eyes, we vow

We would exchange our dreaming

To be one hour as thou!

Such discontent we borrow,

That we forget in sorrow

We have the long to-morrow,

Thou only hast the NOW.