Birds Of Passage

by


    FLIGHT THE FIRST

    . . come i gru van cantando lor lai,
    Facendo in aer di se lunga riga. -- DANTE


    BIRDS OF PASSAGE

    Black shadows fall
    From the lindens tall,
    That lift aloft their massive wall
        Against the southern sky;

    And from the realms
    Of the shadowy elms
    A tide-like darkness overwhelms
        The fields that round us lie.

    But the night is fair,
    And everywhere
    A warm, soft vapor fills the air,
        And distant sounds seem near,

    And above, in the light
    Of the star-lit night,
    Swift birds of passage wing their flight
        Through the dewy atmosphere.

    I hear the beat
    Of their pinions fleet,
    As from the land of snow and sleet
        They seek a southern lea.

    I hear the cry
    Of their voices high
    Falling dreamily through the sky,
        But their forms I cannot see.

    O, say not so!
    Those sounds that flow
    In murmurs of delight and woe
        Come not from wings of birds.

    They are the throngs
    Of the poet's songs,
    Murmurs of pleasures, and pains, and wrongs,
        The sound of winged words.

    This is the cry
    Of souls, that high
    On toiling, beating pinions, fly,
        Seeking a warmer clime,

    From their distant flight
    Through realms of light
    It falls into our world of night,
        With the murmuring sound of rhyme.

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Return to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Home Page, or . . . Read the next poem; Blind Bartimeus

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