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.

More verses by Andrew Jackson Downing

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