I have listened for the beat
Of slow wings across the sea.
In their strange and dumb retreat
From their foreign liberty.
Come the birds from northern lands,
Where the Russian sleigh-bells chime,
From the hungry desert sands
Of a southern clime.
Come the birds where Eastern air,
Pierced by lofty minaret,
Echoes far the Turkish prayer
Of a God we half forget.
In my garden I have strayed
Through the warm sweet days of Spring,
Bent to each small nest, delayed
By the young birds' fluttering.
To the soft, song-laden wind
Leant in hope and half in fear,
One low perfect note to find
In the joyous tumult here.
There 's no bird upon the wing,
There 's no fledgeling in the nest,
There 's no song where others sing
More glorious than the rest.
Is he caged without release
Who makes all lovely things to be?
What holds the gentle bird of Peace,
God's hand, or human frailty?