The Red Bird
When the summer sky is a tent of blue,
And rosy June is the regnant queen,
A crimson shuttle, he flashes through
The leafy warp of the forest green.
And the thread of a sweet song follows him,
In mazy tangles of shade and sun,
And stretches away in the distance dim-
And the bonny bird, and the song- are one!
In robe of orange, and of black,
With mellow music in his throat,
Our fairest summer bird is back
From southern woods and fields remote.
Beneath the shading, glossy leaves
The sunset gold upon his breast-
The restless, little toiler weaves
His hanging wonder of a nest!
And, as I watch him, flashing there,
My fancy deems the oriole
A wand'ring blossom of the air,
Endowed with wings, and voice, and soul!
Deep in the desert's fiery heart-
From bloom and verdure far apart-
A fountain thrusts its helping hand
Up through the arid, burning sand;
And lo! embroidery of green
Along its silent course was seen;
Its waters wandered o'er the plain
To bless 'The Land of Little Rain.'
So in some desert-place of life,
Where drouth prevails, and storms are rife,
Some healing fountain, hid from sight,
Some radiant sun of love and light,
Some potent sovereign of the hour,
Asserts its strange, mysterious power-
Repeats the miracle of spring,
And sets the desert blossoming.
Life's Common Things
The common things of life are best-
The air, the sun, the rain;
They come and go without our quest-
They go, and come again.
And treasures in our hands we hold
That riches cannot buy,
Though there be bags of yellow gold
Enough to fill the sky.
For us the robin trills his song,
The oriole pipes his lay-
A concert all the summer long,
And not a cent to pay.
And Love's and Friendship's joys are ours,
And sweet content, and health-
Not always found to be the dowers
Of luxury and wealth.
The crown of care on greatness pressed,
May well the soul appall;
The common things of life are best,
And dear, we have them all.
Now the leaves are falling, bronze and brown and yellow,
Some are dry as parchment, crisp as new bank notes.
Seldom do I hear the wild birds singing;
What has stopped the music in their throats?
When the leaves are falling, gentle is their patter,
In the garden pathway such a night as this-
Never the breath of a light breeze stirring,
Even the violet must forego his kiss.
So it is at vespers, and likewise at the dawning,
When I am gazing through the window pane;
Often I think that the scene is sadder-
Sadder than the sobbing of the autumn rain.
Peach, unquiet dreamer! Better things are coming,
Brief the stress of winter, summer days are long.
Joy! The gray November, even now, presages
Riot of the roses, and the linnet's song!
A Desert Rain
The cool rain poured in sudden haste
Upon the thirsty sod,
And life throughout an arid waste
Rejoices, thanking God.
Each wild and lonely desert flower
Is royally arrayed,
As if in one brief, stormy hour
The world were newly made.
Where vagrant breezes stray and waft
The mesquite's sweet perfume,
The green saguaro's fluted shaft
Lifts high a richer bloom.
The palo verde blossoms glow
Like jets of yellow fire,
And every bird we love and know
Pipes in the tuneful choir.
The fair Altruria of the bees,
Beneath the orange boughs,
Hears whispered friendships of the trees
As sweet as lovers' vows.
Wee desert folk from strife forbear-
Their deadly conflicts cease,
As if responsive to the prayer
For Universal Peace.
No more on thorns the linnet hangs-
Slain by the cruel shrike;
The coiled crotalus sheathes his fangs,
And does not care to strike.
Here blooms the world like Aaron's rod,
New verdure clothes the plain-
The wondrous miracle of God
That follows a desert rain!
I walk at morn where fairies brew,
On moonlit nights the clear, bright dew;
And every blossom holdeth up
In modest grace a dainty cup,
Enwreathed about with glossy leaves;
And every cup a drop receives,
And all the leaves with open palms-
Like little beggars asking alms-
Take the sweet gift with gratitude,
And seem to whisper: 'God is good!'
The air is throbbing with the wings
Of birds, and bees, and fluttering things;
And all the world with song is rife,
With newborn hope and bounding life;
And Courage firmer sets his lance,
And Pleasure trips a lighter dance,
And Love and Joy make holiday
In all the smiling haunts of May;
And Faith grows stronger, and Trust more true
As if themselves baptized with dew.
And thus would I, this glad, bright hour-
Where queenly Beauty builds her bower-
Share in the sweetness and the light
That fill the earth and banish night;
The infinite delight of song,
The power to triumph over wrong,
The grace, the patience to endure,
And faith in Heav'n, a purpose pure,
And all things fair, and good, and true,
Whose symbol is the stainless dew.
A wise old mother is Nature-
She guideth her children's feet
In many a flowery pathway;
And her strong life-currents beat,
Sometimes in intricate channels-
As a mountain stream may run-
But ever her purpose triumphs,
And ever the goal is won.
Her eyes are the eyes of Argus,
And she utters her decree:
The brook shall come to the river,
And the river shall reach the sea.
We have failed to read the riddle
Of the impulse and desire,
That burn in the soul of being,
Like the sun's great heart of fire,
Impelling the bird, storm-drifted,
To come to its sheltered nest,
And the mother to bring her baby
The warmth of her shielding breast;
And the blossom to yield its honey
As the spoil of the bandit bee-
While the brook goes down to the river
And the river reaches the sea.
But whatsoever we name it-
Be it Destiny, or Fate-
It leads the prince to his kingdom,
The king to his palace gate;
The lover shall taste the kisses
That grow on the maiden's lips;
And safe, in the land-locked harbor,
Shall be moored the wand'ring ships;
And the soul shall gain its heaven-
Where the white-robed angels be-
And the brook shall blend with the river
And the river shall wed the sea.
Fair is the sky, for the cloud-rack is lifted-
Bright will the day be, though dark was the morn;
Warm was the morn, but the strong wind has shifted
Into the north- where the blizzards are born.
White coward mercury goes down to zero-
Darting about flies a veteran jay,
Braving the breeze, like a blue-coated hero-
Seeking his supper, I venture to say.
Neighbors pass hurriedly, mantled and muffled-
Great coats, and seal-skins, to keep out the storm-
Plump little quail, with their plumage beruffled,
Search in the hedge for a nook that is warm.
That latest blast from the boreal bellows,
Drifted some snow-birds the garden below;
Always their coming, the wise-acres tell us,
Tokens cold weather, and flurries of snow.
Warm sheltered corners the cattle have chosen,
Shivers the pine in its evergreen leaves;
Pools by the roadside in wrinkles are frozen-
Bayonet icicles hang from the eaves.
Five English sparrows, defying the weather,
There in the pathway a conference hold;
Ho! merry midgets in doublets of feathers!
Why do you rally out there in the cold?
Little you care for the riot and rattle-
Little you heed- let the mercury fall!
Brave little fighters, go on with your battle-
Here is a friend who will welcome you all!
Fly to my window- I'll feed every comer-
Hail to the comrades that constancy show
Loving and loyal, in winter and summer-
With us, alike, in the heat and the snow!
Arizona is peerless, her breezes are soft,
And mostly her sky is surprisingly fair,
For 'the sweet little cherub' on duty aloft,
Controlling the tricks of the ambient air,
Is vigilant always- good-natured enough
In doing his meteorological stunts;
Yet sometimes we think, when the weather is rough,
That he tries to dispense all his product at once.
Far down the broad continent's vertebral line
Old Boreas batters the earth with his flail-
The heavy snows fall in the forests of pine,
And the zephyrs give way to the bellowing gale.
But here, in the Salt River valley below,
The air is as warm as the breath of a child,
Not even the tiniest flakelets of snow
Suggesting the winter, uncanny and wild.
The roses are with us the round rolling year,
As rich and as regal as Persia can boast-
Every flower that is found in the Valeof Cashmere
Abloom at its best when we prize it the most.
And then- the ripe oranges, certainly these,
So large and so luscious, so yellow and bright,
Are the apples of gold from Hesperides,
Grown only where life is a dream of delight.
In lauding the charms of this marvelous land,
The green of her valleys, the fruit of her vines,
Her beautiful mountains, her scenery grand,
Her herds and her orchards, the wealth of her mines,
The worth of her people, we make no mistake,
For the whole world attests what so long has been true-
Arizona was worthy and ready to take
Her place on the roll with her star in the blue.
Full wealth of pleasing sights
October brings us- rare delights
Of golden days, and moon-bright, silver nights.
The very air is wine,
And cordial, in its crystalline,
Cool sweetness, and we drink the nectar fine.
Some small, white flowers- the pledge
Of the dead Summer- star the edge
Of the wide field's embroidery of hedge.
The mountains wear their hoods
Of cloud with softer grace; there broods
A royal splendor over all the woods.
Leaves, red as sunset skies-
Leaves, opulent with Tyrian dyes,
Or gold, or brown, a glory and surprise!
And scarlet berries shine;
And wild grapes, filled with ruddy wine,
Are meshed and held in tangled nets of vine.
Some migrant birds we know,
Whose notes in rippling music flow,
Are heard no more. Ah! whither did they go?
Perhaps in far-off isles
Of Indian seas, where summer smiles,
Each song we love some weary heart beguiles.
Yet, the brown quail is here,
Piping, in treble, full and clear,
His song of home, and sweet content, and cheer.
The red-wing spreads his wings
Above the ripening corn, and sings-
Nor sweeter notes leaped from Apollo's strings.
And, shrill, the noisy jay,
A blue-coat cynic, day by day,
Scolds in the walnut tree across the way.
He scolds because, perchance,
He sees the darker days advance,
When Winter comes to couch a frosty lance;
Because the forest's crown
Of splendid leafage, drifting down,
Will leave his realm a landscape, bare and brown.
So moves the painted show-
Mirage of Summer! till the glow
Of Autumn dies, amid the falling snow!
The golden glow of autumn-time
Hath faded like an ember,
And on the dreary landscape lies
The first flakes of November;
Chill blows the wind through woods discrowned
Of all their leafy glory,
As thus the seasons in their round
Repeat the endless story!
The earth hath yielded up her fruits
To bless the farmer's labors,
And peace and plenty crown the lives
Of cheery friends and neighbors;
In fertile vales, on prairies broad,
In homes by lake and river,
Ten thousand thousand hearts unite
To bless the Gracious Giver.
Thanksgiving for the harvest full,
The orchard's mellow treasures,
The purple grapes, the golden corn,
And all the joys and pleasures,
And bounties rich and manifold,
That make life worth the living-
For these, alike, the young and old,
Join in a glad thanksgiving.
The kindly pair, whose weight of years
With frosty locks hath crowned them;
Are seated at the festal board
With all their children round them;
The father giveth fervent thanks
In homely phrase and diction,
And stretches forth his aged hands
In holy benediction.
Thus friends, long sundered, reunite,
Recount each joy and pleasure-
The annals of the fading past-
And fill again the measure
Of youth, and healthful joyousness,
As in the glad time olden,
When life was new, and skies were blue,
And all the days were golden.
Thanks to the Pilgrim Fathers, then,
Whose little goodly leaven
Works out through all the buried years
This sweet foretaste of heaven.
And to the Lord, whose bounteous gifts
Make life well worth the living-
Who dwells above, whose name is Love-
Be evermore thanksgiving!
I saw a pretty bluebird, yesterday,
Rocking itself upon a budding spray-
The while it fluted forth a tender song
That brought a promise of sunshiny days.
It is the loveliest little bird that comes
In early spring-time to our northern homes.
We note its presence, bid it welcome here,
Before the crocus its green calyx parts
To lead the smiling sisterhood of flowers
In fair procession through the summer land.
The sweet-voiced warbler wears a coat that mocks
The fair, fringed gentian in its azure hue,
Or the blue larkspur.
Oftentimes a bar
Of music or the drowsy hum of bees
In an old orchard, or the faintest scent
Of a familiar blossom, leads us back
Along the track of years, to sights and sounds
Of long ago. So, ever, when I hear
The bluebird caroling its perfect song-
Whose harshest note breathes only love and peace-
And when I mark its brilliant uniform-
This midget bird, so small that it might be
Imprisoned in a lady's lily hand-
I am reminded of the battle years
When men, full-armed, and wearing suits of blue,
Marched to the music of the fife and drum
In strong battalions in a southern land.
And all the pomp and blazonry of war-
Guidons and banners tossing in the breeze,
Sabers and muskets glinting in the sun,
Carriage and caisson rumbling o'er the stones,
The midnight vigil of the lone vidette,
The shock and roar of battle, and the shouts
Of the victorious army when the fight
Was done; the aftermath of sorrows deep-
The cries and moans of wounded, dying men,
The hurried burial of the dead at night,
The broken lives in many homes, the hearths
Made desolate- all these come back to me,
As I beheld and knew them once; and then,
In sad reflection to myself I sigh:
What weak, inglorious fools we mortals are
That war must be, or any need of war.
And yet, the better day is coming when
The teachings of the lowly Nazarene
Shall be the rule of nations- as of men;
The sword and bayonet shall be preserved,
By the fair children of a nobler race,
As relics only, of a barbarous past
When men were crazed, and shed each other's blood.
All souls shall be in touch and harmony
With Nature, and her higher, holier laws;
And all the world, from farthest sea to sea,
Shall know a sweet, idyllic peace and rest,
Unmarred by strife, or any harsher sounds
Than her harmonious voices- ocean waves,
Breaking in rhythmic beat upon the shore;
The murmurous solo of the valley brook-
The wind's wild monody amid the pines-
The thrush's whistle, and the bluebird's song.