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Whippoorwill Poems

Table of Contents

  1. To the Whippoorwill by Elizabeth F. Ellet
  2. Whip Poor Will by Amos Russel Wells
  3. The Whippoorwill by Obadiah C. Auringer
  4. A Sonnet To The Whippowil by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott
  5. The Whip-po-wil by Ellen P. Allerton


Loud and sudden and near the notes of a whippoorwill sounded
Like a flute in the woods; and anon, through the neighboring thickets,
Farther and farther away it floated and dropped into silence.

– Henry W. Longfellow
Evangeline
  1. To the Whippoorwill

    by Elizabeth F. Ellet

    Bird of the lone and joyless night,
    Whence is thy sad and solemn lay?
    Attendant on the pale moon's light,
    Why shun the garish blaze of day?

    When darkness fills the dewy air,
    Nor sounds the song of happier bird,
    Alone, amid the silence there,
    Thy wild and plaintive note is heard.

    Thyself unseen, thy pensive moan
    Pour d in no living comrade's ear,
    The forest's shaded depths alone
    Thy mournful melody can hear.

    Beside what still and secret spring,
    In what dark wood the livelong day,
    Sett st thou with dusk and folded wing,
    To while the hours of light away.

    Sad minstrel! thou hast learn'd, like me,
    That life's deceitful gleam is vain;
    And well the lesson profits thee,
    Who will not trust its charms again.

    Thou, unbeguiled, thy plaint dost trill
    To listening night, when mirth is o'er;
    I, heedless of the warning, still
    Believe, to be deceived once more.

  2. Whip Poor Will

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Out of the twilight mystical dim,
    Startles a bird call ghostly and grim,
    Over the meadows the fluting cry,
    Stern and pathetic and weirdly nigh;
    "Whip poor Will!"

    Where does he live this mysterious Will?
    Farmland or forest or vale or hill?
    Why is he poor, and if poor, why thus
    Are you persistently bidding us
    "Whip poor Will!"

    Is he a stupid beyond belief?
    Other folks pilfer and call him a thief?
    Others are tricky and dub him a cheat?
    Is that the reason you sadly repeat
    "Whip poor Will!"

    Is Will a rascal deserving of blows,
    Still winning friendship wherever he goes,
    Gently arrested and smilingly chid,—
    Is that the reason so quaintly you bid
    "Whip poor Will!"

    Do we not know him this pitiful Will?
    Centuries pass,—he is with us still!
    Do we not smile as he stands at bay?
    Do we not sob as we legally say
    "Whip poor Will!"

    Easy to urge the judicial command,
    Thrusting the thong in another's hand,
    Ah, you iterant feathered elf,
    If you'd have a whipping then do it yourself;
    "Whip poor Will!"

  3. The Whippoorwill

    by Obadiah C. Auringer

    Listen, how the whippoorwill
    From his song-bed veiled and dusky
    Fills the night ways warm and musky
    With his music's throb and thrill!
    'Tis the western nightingale
    Lodged within the orchard's pale,
    Starting into sudden tune

    'Mid the amorous air of June,
    Lord of all the songs of night,
    Bird unseen, of voice outright,
    Buried in the sumptuous gloom
    Of his shadow-paneled room,
    Roofed above by webbed and woven
    Leaf and bloom, by moonbeams cloven,
    Searched by odorous zephyrs through,
    Dim with dusk and damp with dew,—
    He it is that makes the night
    An enchantment and delight,
    Opening his entrancing tale
    Where the evening robins fail,
    Ending his victorious strain
    When the robins wake again.

  4. A Sonnet To The Whippowil

    by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott

    Carol on thy lonely spray,
    Lovely whippowil,
    While the moonbeam's parting ray,
    Sinks behind the hill.

    Tuneful warbler rich in song,
    I love thy plaintive thrill,
    Thy notes of sympathy are strong,
    Lovely whippowil.

    The hour of rest is twilight's hour,
    Then meet me whippowil,
    And chant beside my lonely bower,
    And I will listen still

    There I retired in former days,
    Charm'd by the whippowil,
    And there the muse often stray,
    To hear those sounds so shrill.

    When friends are laid within the tomb,
    And grief oppresses still,
    Break forth and rouse me from this gloom,
    Harmonious whippowil.

  5. The Whip-po-wil

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    When softly over field and town,
    And over yonder wood-crowned hill,
    The twilight drops its curtain down,
    'Tis then we hear the whip-po-wil.

    From the near shadows sounds a call,
    Clear in its accents, loud and shrill,
    And from the orchard's willow wall
    Comes the faint answer, "Whip-po-wil."

    The night creeps on; the summer morn
    Whitens the roof and lights the sill;
    And still the bird repeats his tune,
    His one refrain of "Whip-po-wil."

    We hear him not at morn or noon;
    Where hides he then so dumb and still?
    Where lurks he, waiting for the moon?
    Who ever saw a whip-po-wil?

    Where plies his mate her household care?
    In what veiled nook, secure from ill,
    Builds she the tiny cradle, where
    Nestles the baby whip-po-wil?

    I cannot tell, yet prize the more
    The unseen bird, whose wild notes thrill
    The evening gloom about my door,—
    Still sweetly calling, "Whip-po-wil."

    Asleep through all the strong daylight,
    While other birds so gayly trill;
    Waking to cheer the lonely night,—
    We love thee well, O whip-po-wil!