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Bird Language
Christopher Pearse Cranch

One day in the bluest of summer weather,
    Sketching under a whispering oak,
I heard five bobolinks laughing together
    Over some ornithological joke.
What the fun was I couldn't discover.
    Language of birds is a riddle on earth.
What could they find in whiteweed and clover
    To split their sides with such musical mirth?
Was it some prank of the prodigal summer,
    Face in the cloud or voice in the breeze,
Querulous catbird, woodpecker drummer,
    Cawing of crows high over the trees?
Was it some chipmunk's chatter, or weasel
    Under the stone-wall stealthy and sly?
Or was the joke about me at my easel,
    Trying to catch the tints of the sky?
Still they flew tipsily, shaking all over,
    Bubbling with jollity, brimful of glee,
While I sat listening deep in the clover,
    Wondering what their jargon could be.
'T was but the voice of a morning the brightest
    That ever dawned over yon shadowy hills;
'T was but the song of all joy that is lightest,
    Sunshine breaking in laughter and trills.

This poem is in the public domain.


Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813 â€" 1892) was a minister, writer, and author. Born in Alexandria, Virginia, he attended Harvard Divinity School and, except for some extended travel in Europe, spent most of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Trained as a Unitarian minister, he became very involved with the Transcendentalist movement and much of his fame initially came from caricatures he did of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In addition to writing poetry, Christopher also worked as a magazine editor and wrote several works for children. Later in life, he became interested in painting. He was gifted in all these areas and was well appreciated for his multiple talents as well as his amiable disposition.

Post New Comment:
Larry Schug:
How can you not like a poem from a guy with an "amiable disposition"?
Posted 06/27/2013 12:21 PM
a joy of a poem... Judy
Posted 06/27/2013 12:01 PM
An "ornithological joke"! :-) LOVE!
Posted 06/27/2013 10:45 AM
Donna Pflueger:
What a clever poet! Summer and all of its elements burst into life with this poem. He succeeded - his poem brought me joy on this day! Thanks, Jayne.
Posted 06/27/2013 09:44 AM
This is so much fun to read! I think I'll memorize it.
Posted 06/27/2013 09:20 AM
"tipsily...jollity...brimful of glee" I love the musical rhythm of this poem. Well done sir! I shall look you up when I get to Heaven :)
Posted 06/27/2013 08:55 AM
I've studied Transcendentalism for years and have taught it, but never heard of this author. Thanks for sharing.
Posted 06/27/2013 08:14 AM
Interesting character, this writer....Fun poem.
Posted 06/27/2013 07:06 AM

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