VI. Animate Nature To The Lapland Longspur

By John Burroughs

OH, thou northland bobolink,
Looking over Summer’s brink
Up to Winter, worn and dim,
Peering down from mountain rim,
Something takes me in thy note, 5
Quivering wing, and bubbling throat;
Something moves me in thy ways—
Bird, rejoicing in thy days,
In thy upward-hovering flight.
In thy suit of black and white, 10
Chestnut cape and circled crown,
In thy mate of speckled brown;
Surely I may pause and think
Of my boyhood’s bobolink.

Soaring over meadows wild 15
(Greener pastures never smiled);
Raining music from above,
Full of rapture, full of love;
Frolic, gay and debonair,
Yet not all exempt from care, 20
For thy nest is in the grass,
And thou worriest as I pass;
But nor hand nor foot of mine
Shall do harm to thee or thine;
I, musing, only pause to think 25
Of my boyhood’s bobolink.

But no bobolink of mine
Ever sang o’er mead so fine,
Starred with flowers of every hue,
Gold and purple, white and blue; 30
Painted-cup, anemone,
Jacob’s-ladder, fleur-de-lis,
Orchid, harebell, shooting-star,
Crane’s-bill, lupine, seen afar,
Primrose, poppy, saxifrage, 35
Pictured type on Nature’s page—
These and others here unnamed,
In northland gardens, yet untamed,
Deck the fields where thou dost sing,
Mounting up on trembling wing; 40
While in wistful mood I think
Of my boyhood’s bobolink.

On Unalaska’s emerald lea,
On lonely isles in Bering Sea,
On far Siberia’s barren shore, 45
On north Alaska’s tundra floor,
At morn, at noon, in pallid night,
We heard thy song and saw thy flight,
While I, sighing, could but think
Of my boyhood’s bobolink.

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