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Mockingbird Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Mocking-Bird by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  2. The Mocking-Bird by William Henry Timrod
  3. To Our Mocking-Bird by Sidney Lanier
  4. To a Mocking-Bird by Henry Jerome Stockard
  5. The Mocking-Bird by Frank Lebby Stanton
  6. The First Mockingbird in Spring by Paul Hamilton Hayne
  7. To The Mockingbird by Wilson Flagg
  8. The Mocking-Bird by Paul Hamilton Hayne
  9. The Mocking-Bird by Alexander Beaufort Meek
  10. Lament of a Mocking-Bird by Frances Anne Kemble
  11. The Mocking-Bird and the Donkey by William Cullen Bryant

Poems About Mockingbirds

  1. Mocking-Bird

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Then from a neighboring thicket the mocking-bird, wildest of singers,
    Swinging aloft on a willow spray that hung o’er the water,
    Shook from his little throat such floods of delirious music,
    That the whole air and the woods and the waves seemed silent to listen.
    Plaintive at first were the tones and sad: then soaring to madness
    Seemed they to follow or guide the revel of frenzied Bacchantes.
    Single notes were then heard, in sorrowful, low lamentation;
    Till, having gathered them all, he flung them abroad in derision,
    As when, after a storm, a gust of wind through the tree-tops
    Shakes down the rattling rain in a crystal shower on the branches.

  2. The Mocking-Bird

    by William Henry Timrod

    Nor did lack
    Sweet music to the magic of the scene:
    The little crimson-breasted Nonpareil
    Was there, his tiny feet scarce bending down
    The silken tendril that he lighted on
    To pour his love notes; and in russet coat,

    Most homely, like true genius bursting forth
    In spite of adverse fortune, a full choir
    Within himself, the merry Mock Bird sate,
    Filling the air with melody; and at times,
    In the rapt favor of his sweetest song,
    His quivering form would spring into the sky,
    In spiral circles, as if he would catch
    New powers from kindred warblers in the clouds
    Who would bend down to greet him!

  3. To Our Mocking-Bird

    by Sidney Lanier

    I.
    Trillets of humor, — shrewdest whistle-wit, —
    Contralto cadences of grave desire
    Such as from off the passionate Indian pyre
    Drift down through sandal-odored flames that split
    About the slim young widow who doth sit
    And sing above, — midnights of tone entire, —
    Tissues of moonlight shot with songs of fire; —
    Bright drops of tune, from oceans infinite
    Of melody, sipped off the thin-edged wave
    And trickling down the beak, — discourses brave
    Of serious matter that no man may guess, —
    Good-fellow greetings, cries of light distress —
    All these but now within the house we heard:
    O Death, wast thou too deaf to hear the bird?

    II.
    Ah me, though never an ear for song, thou hast
    A tireless tooth for songsters: thus of late
    Thou camest, Death, thou Cat! and leap'st my gate,
    And, long ere Love could follow, thou hadst passed
    Within and snatched away, how fast, how fast,
    My bird — wit, songs, and all — thy richest freight
    Since that fell time when in some wink of fate
    Thy yellow claws unsheathed and stretched, and cast
    Sharp hold on Keats, and dragged him slow away,
    And harried him with hope and horrid play —
    Ay, him, the world's best wood-bird, wise with song —
    Till thou hadst wrought thine own last mortal wrong.
    'Twas wrong! 'twas wrong! I care not, wrong's the word!
    To munch our Keats and crunch our mocking-bird.

    III.
    Nay, Bird; my grief gainsays the Lord's best right.
    The Lord was fain, at some late festal time,
    That Keats should set all Heaven's woods in rhyme,
    And thou in bird-notes. Lo, this tearful night,
    Methinks I see thee, fresh from death's despite,
    Perched in a palm-grove, wild with pantomime,
    O'er blissful companies couched in shady thyme,
    — Methinks I hear thy silver whistlings bright
    Mix with the mighty discourse of the wise,
    Till broad Beethoven, deaf no more, and Keats,
    'Midst of much talk, uplift their smiling eyes,
    And mark the music of thy wood-conceits,
    And halfway pause on some large, courteous word,
    And call thee "Brother," O thou heavenly Bird!

  4. To a Mocking-Bird

    by Henry Jerome Stockard

    The name thou wearest does thee grievous wrong;
    No mimic thou: that voice is thine alone.
    The poets sing but strains of Shakespeare's song;
    The birds, but notes of thine imperial own.

  5. The Mocking-Bird

    by Frank Lebby Stanton

    He didn’t know much music
    When first he come along;
    An’ all the birds went wonderin’
    Why he didn’t sing a song.

    They primped their feathers in the sun,
    An’ sung their sweetest notes;
    An’ music jest come on the run
    From all their purty throats!

    But still that bird was silent
    In summer time an’ fall;
    He jest set still an’ listened,
    An’ he wouldn’t sing at all!

    But one night when them songsters
    Was tired out an’ still,
    An’ the wind sighed down the valley
    An’ went creepin’ up the hill;

    When the stars was all a-tremble
    In the dreamin’ fields o’ blue,
    An’ the daisy in the darkness
    Felt the fallin’ o’ the dew,—

    There come a sound o’ melody
    No mortal ever heard,
    An’ all the birds seemed singin’
    From the throat o’ one sweet bird!

    Then the other birds went Mayin’
    In a land too fur to call;
    Fer there warn’t no use in stayin’
    When one bird could sing fer all!

  6. The First Mockingbird in Spring

    by Paul Hamilton Hayne

    Winged poet of vernal ethers!
    Ah! where hast thou lingered long?
    I have missed thy passionate, skyward flights
    And the trills of thy changeful song.
    Hast thou been in the hearts of woodlands old,
    Half dreaming, and, drowsed by the winter's cold,
    Just crooning the ghost of thy springtide lay
    To the listless shadows, benumbed and gray?
    Or hast thou strayed by a tropic shore,
    And lavished, O sylvan troubadour!
    The boundless wealth of thy music free
    On the dimpling waves of the Southland sea?
    What matter? Thou comest with magic strain,
    To the morning haunts of thy life again,
    And thy melodies fall in a rhythmic rain.

    The wren and the field-lark listen
    To the gush from their laureate's throat;
    And the blue-bird stops on the oak to catch
    Each rounded and perfect note.
    The sparrow, his pert head reared aloft,
    Has ceased to chirp in the grassy croft,
    And is bending the curves of his tiny ear
    In the pose of a critic wise, to hear.
    A blackbird, perched on a glistening gum,
    Seems lost in a rapture, deep and dumb;
    And as eagerly still in his tranced hush,
    'Mid the copse beneath, is a clear-eyed thrush.
    No longer the dove by the thorn-tree root
    Moans sad and soft as a far-off flute.
    All Nature is hearkening, charmed and mute.

    We scarce can deem it a marvel,
    For the songs our nightingale sings
    Throb warm and sweet with the rhythmic beat
    Of the fervors of countless springs.
    All beautiful measures of sky and earth
    Outpour in a second and rarer birth
    From that mellow throat. When the winds are whist,
    And he follows his mate to their sunset tryst,
    Where the wedded myrtles and jasmine twine,
    Oh! the swell of his music is half divine!
    And I vaguely wonder, O bird! can it be
    That a human spirit hath part in thee?
    Some Lesbian singer's, who died perchance
    Too soon in the summer of Greek romance,
    But the rich reserves of whose broken lay,
    In some mystical, wild, undreamed-of way,
    Find voice in thy bountiful strains to-day!

  7. To The Mockingbird

    by Wilson Flagg

    Carolling bird that merrily night and day
    Tellest thy raptures from the rustling spray
    And wakest the morning with thy varied lay
    Singing thy matins
    When we have come to hear thy sweet oblation
    Of love and joyance from thy sylvan station
    Why in the place of musical cantation
    Balk us with pratings

    We stroll by moonlight in the dusky forest
    Where the tall cypress shields thee fervent chorist
    And sit in haunts of echoes when thou pourest
    Thy woodland solo
    Hark from the next green tree thy song commences
    Music and discord join to mock the senses
    Repeated from the tree tops and the fences
    From hill and hollow

    A hundred voices mingle with thy clamor
    Bird beast and reptile take part in thy drama
    Outspeak they all in turn without a stammer
    Brisk polyglot
    Voices of kill deer plover duck and dotterel
    Notes bubbling hissing mellow sharp and guttural
    Of catbird cat or cartwheel thou canst utter all
    And all untaught

    The raven's croak the chirrup of the sparrow
    The jay's harsh note the creaking of a barrow
    The hoot of owls all join the soul to harrow
    And grate the ear
    We listen to thy quaint soliloquizing
    As if all creatures thou wert catechizing
    Tuning their voices and their notes revising
    From far and near

    Sweet bird that surely lovest the noise of folly
    Most musical but never melancholy
    Disturber of the hour that should be holy
    With sounds prodigious
    Fie on thee O thou feathered Paganini
    To use thy little pipes to squawk and whinny
    And emulate the hinge and spinning jenny
    Making night hideous

    Provoking melodist why canst thou breathe us
    No thrilling harmony no charming pathos
    No cheerful song of love without a bathos
    The Furies take thee
    Blast thy obstreperous mirth thy foolish chatter
    Gag thee exhaust thy breath and stop thy clatter
    And change thee to a beast thou senseless prater
    Naught else can check thee

    A lengthened pause ensues but hark again
    From the near woodland stealing o er the plain
    Comes forth a sweeter and a holier strain
    Listening delighted
    The gales breathe softly as they bear along
    The warbled treasure the tumultuous throng
    Of notes that swell accordant in the song
    As love is plighted

    The echoes joyful from their vocal cell
    Leap with the winged sounds o er hill and dell
    With kindling fervor as the chimes they tell
    To wakeful even
    They melt upon the ear they float away
    They rise they sink they hasten they delay
    And hold the listener with bewitching sway
    Like sounds from heaven

  8. The Mocking-Bird

    by Paul Hamilton Hayne

    A golden pallor of voluptuous light
    Filled the warm southern night:
    The moon, clear orbed, above the sylvan scene
    Moved like a stately queen,
    So rife with conscious beauty all the while,
    What could she do but smile
    At her own perfect loveliness below,

    Glassed in the tranquil flow
    Of crystal fountains and unruffled streams?
    Half lost in waking dreams,
    As down the loneliest forest dell I strayed,
    Lo! from a neighboring glade,
    Flashed through the drifts of moonshine, swiftly came
    A fairy shape of flame.
    It rose in dazzling spirals overhead,
    Whence to wild sweetness wed,
    Poured marvellous melodies, silvery trill on trill;
    The very leaves grew still
    On the charmed trees to hearken; while for me,
    Heart-trilled to ecstasy,
    I followed—followed the bright shape that flew,
    Still circling up the blue,
    Till as a fountain that has reached its height,
    Falls back in sprays of light
    Slowly dissolved, so that enrapturing lay,
    Divinely melts away
    Through tremulous spaces to a music-mist, Soon by the fitful breeze
    How gently kissed
    Into remote and tender silences.

  9. The Mocking-Bird

    by Alexander Beaufort Meek

    From the vale, what music ringing,
    Fills the bosom of the night;
    On the sense, entrancéd, flinging
    Spells of witchery and delight!
    O'er magnolia, lime and cedar,
    From yon locust-top, it swells,
    Like the chant of serenader,
    Or the rhymes of silver bells!
    Listen! dearest, listen to it!
    Sweeter sounds were never heard!
    'Tis the song of that wild poet—
    Mime and minstrel Mocking—Bird.

    See him, swinging in his glory,
    On yon topmost bending limb!
    Caroling his amorous story,
    Like some wild crusader's hymn!
    Now it faints in tones delicious
    As the first low vow of love!
    Now it bursts in swells capricious,
    All the moonlit vale above!
    Listen! dearest, etc.

    Why is't thus, this sylvan Petrarch
    Pours all night his serenade?
    'Tis for some proud woodland Laura,
    His sad sonnets all are made!
    But he changes now his measure—
    Gladness bubbling from his mouth—
    Jest, and gibe, and mimic pleasure—
    Winged Anacreon of the South!
    Listen! dearest, etc.

    Bird of music, wit and gladness,
    Troubadour of sunny climes,
    Disenchanter of all sadness,—
    Would thine art were in my rhymes.
    O'er the heart that's beating by me,
    I would weave a spell divine;
    Is there aught she could deny me,
    Drinking in such strains as thine?
    Listen! dearest, etc.

  10. Lament of a Mocking-Bird

    by Frances Anne Kemble

    Silence instead of thy sweet song, my bird,
    Which through the darkness of my winter days
    Warbling of summer sunshine still was heard;
    Mute is thy song, and vacant is thy place.

    The spring comes back again, the fields rejoice,
    Carols of gladness ring from every tree;
    But I shall hear thy wild triumphant voice
    No more: my summer song has died with thee.

    What didst thou sing of, O my summer bird?
    The broad, bright, brimming river, whose swift sweep
    And whirling eddies by the home are heard,
    Rushing, resistless, to the calling deep.

    What didst thou sing of, thou melodious sprite?
    Pine forests, with smooth russet carpets spread,
    Where e'en at noonday dimly falls the light,
    Through gloomy blue-green branches overhead.

    What didst thou sing of, O thou jubilant soul?
    Ever-fresh flowers and never-leafless trees,
    Bending great ivory cups to the control
    Of the soft swaying, orange scented breeze.

    What didst thou sing of, thou embodied glee?
    The wide wild marshes with their clashing reeds
    And topaz-tinted channels, where the sea
    Daily its tides of briny freshness leads.

    What didst thou sing of, O thou winged voice?
    Dark, bronze-leaved oaks, with silver mosses crowned,
    Where thy free kindred live, love, and rejoice,
    With wreaths of golden jasmine curtained round.

    These didst thou sing of, spirit of delight!
    From thy own radiant sky, thou quivering spark!
    These thy sweet southern dreams of warmth and light,
    Through the grim northern winter drear and dark.

  11. The Mocking-Bird and the Donkey

    by William Cullen Bryant. From the Spanish of the Mexican poet José Rosas.

    A mock-bird in a village
    Had somehow gained the skill
    To imitate the voices
    Of animals at will.

    And singing in his prison,
    Once, at the close of day,
    He gave, with great precision,
    The donkey's heavy bray.

    Well pleased, the mock-bird's master
    Sent to the neighbors 'round,
    And bade them come together
    To hear that curious sound.

    They came, and all were talking
    In praise of what they heard,
    And one delighted lady
    Would fain have bought the bird.

    A donkey listened sadly,
    And said: "Confess I must
    That these are shallow people,
    And terribly unjust.

    "I'm bigger than the mock-bird,
    And better bray than he,
    Yet not a soul has uttered
    A word in praise of me."