From among Chocorua's tenants,
From among the birds of Crowlands,
One in all eyes is a villain.
Loathed, detested, hated, dreaded,
Known to be a thief and ruffian,
Known to be a foul assassin,
Known to be a sneak and coward,
Hated doubly for his beauty.
Crows are open in marauding,
Crows are black and bold and bragging;
Owls confine their crimes to twilight
Or the hours of moonlit silence;
Hawks in highest heaven hover,
Soar in sight of all their victims:
None can charge them with deception,
All their crimes are deeds of daring.
Clad in blue with snow-white trimmings,
Clean and smooth in every feather,
Plumed and crested like a dandy,
Keen of vision, strong of muscle,
Shrewd in mimicry and dodging,
Knowing every copse and thicket,
Warm in snow and cool in summer,
Is the blue jay still a villain?
Outlawed by all bird tribunals,
As a wretch disguised, he's branded,
Shunned by every feathered creature;
Yet he prospers, man admires him.
Through the tedious months of winter
Round the com-barn's step he lingers,
Boldly down among the poultry
Comes he to secure their kernels;
Through the barb'ries, through the cedars,
Prowls he searching for their berries,
In the spruces, in the hemlocks,
Cocoons from the bark detaching.
But so soon as in the Maytime
Eggs are laid and young are hatching,
Berries, buds, and worms rejecting,
Turns this scourge to sweeter morsels;
Woe awaits the early songster
Whose uncovered nest he chances
To discover as he's sneaking
Through the forest seeking plunder;
Wise the nuthatch and the titmouse
Wise the bluebird and the downy,
To conceal their nests in tree-trunks
Where this monster cannot find them;
Ask the vireo what happens,
Ask the junco where her eggs are,
Ask the thrush and ask the robin
What assassin slew their young ones.
Hundreds perish in the season,
Egg and young of birds as useful
As their slayer is unfriendly
To the ways and plans of farmers.
Retribution sometimes follows
On the footsteps of this monster.
Crows will fly among the savins,
Search among the bristling branches,
Find the nests of roots and bark strips
Armed with barbs and twined with brambles,
Full of eggs or young just gaping —
Dainty morsels those for crows tongues.
Harsh the clamor when the robber
Comes to find his own home wasted,
Wild the screams and fierce the anger,
Vain the flights around the nesting.
Man admires him for his feathers,
Loves to watch him in the winter
Boldly fly among the poultry,
Snatching golden kernels from them,
But his peers alone can judge him
Justly, clearly, on his merits.
One and all they call him outlaw,
Hate him, loathe him, fear him, spurn him.
Be his plumage light and dainty
He is cousin to the raven,
Near of kin is he to Corvus,
Black his heart, and black his kindred,
False his colors, false his nature.
All his beauty is delusion,
All his tricks are tricks of darkness;
Grim Chocorua through his cloud veil
Ever looks askance upon him.