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A March Minstrel poem – Alfred Austin


Hail! once again, that sweet strong note!

Loud on my loftiest larch,

Thou quaverest with thy mottled throat,

Brave minstrel of bleak March!

Hearing thee flute, who pines or grieves

For vernal smiles and showers?

Thy voice is greener than the leaves,

And fresher than the flowers.

Scorning to wait for tuneful May

When every throat can sing,

Thou floutest Winter with thy lay,

And art thyself the Spring.

While daffodils, half mournful still,

Muffle their golden bells,

Thy silvery peal o’er landscape chill

Surges, and sinks, and swells.

Across the unsheltered pasture floats

The young lamb’s shivering bleat:

There is no trembling in thy notes,

For all the snow and sleet.

Let the bullace bide till frosts have ceased,

The blackthorn loiter long;

Undaunted by the blustering east,

Thou burgeonest into song.

Yet who can wonder thou dost dare

Confront what others flee?

Thy carol cuts the keen March air

Keener than it cuts Thee.

The selfish cuckoo tarrieth till

April repays his boast.

Thou, thou art lavish of thy trill,

Now when we need it most.

The nightingale, while birds are coy,

Delays to chant its grief.

Brave throstle! thou dost pipe for joy

With never a bough in leaf.

Even fond turtle-doves forbear

To coo till woods are warm:

Thou hast the heart to love and pair

Ere the cherry blossoms swarm.

The skylark, fluttering to be heard

In realms beyond his birth,

Soars vainly heavenward. Thou, wise bird!

Art satisfied with earth.

Thy home is not upon the ground,

Thy hope not in the sky:

Near to thy nest thy notes resound,

Neither too low nor high.

Blow what wind will, thou dost rejoice

To carol, and build, and woo.

Throstle! to me impart thy voice;

Impart thy wisdom too.


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