Books > Old Books >The Elson Readers Book Six (1910)


Page 181

SERVICE AND THRIFT
THE BIRDS OF KILLINGWORTH by HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

The ballad-singers and the troubadours,
The street-musicians of the heavenly city,
The birds who make sweet music for us all
In our dark hours, as David did for Saul.

" The thrush that carols at the dawn of day
From the green steeples of the piny wood;
The oriole in the elm; the noisy jay,
Jargoning like a foreigner at his food;
The bluebird balanced on some topmost spray,
Flooding with melody the neighborhood;
Linnet and meadow lark, and all the throng
That dwell in nests and have the gift of song.

" You slay them all! and wherefore? for the gain
Of a scant handful more or less of wheat,
Or rye, or barley, or some other grain,
Scratched up at random by industrious feet,
Searching for worm or weevil after rain!
Or a few cherries, that are not so sweet
As are the songs these uninvited guests
Sing at their feast with comfortable breasts.

" Do you ne'er think what wondrous beings these?
Do you ne'er think Who made them, and Who taught
The dialect they speak, where melodies
Alone are the interpreters of thought?
Whose household words are songs in many keys,
Sweeter than instrument of man e'er caught!
Whose habitations in the tree-tops even
Are halfway houses on the road to heaven!

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