(20 April 1826 - 12 October 1887 / Stoke-on-Trent / England)

The Canary In His Cage

SING away, ay, sing away,
Merry little bird,
Always gayest of the gay,
Though a woodland roundelay
You ne'er sung nor heard;
Though your life from youth to age
Passes in a narrow cage.

Near the window wild birds fly,
Trees are waving round:
Fair things everywhere you spy
Through the glass pane's mystery,
Your small life's small bound:
Nothing hinders your desire
But a little gilded wire.

Like a human soul you seem
Shut in golden bars:
Placed amidst earth's sunshine-stream,
Singing to the morning beam,
Dreaming 'neath the stars:
Seeing all life's pleasures clear,--
But they never can come near.

Never! Sing, bird-poet mine,
As most poets do;--
Guessing by an instinct fine
At some happiness divine
Which they never knew.
Lonely in a prison bright
Hymning for the world's delight.

Yet, my birdie, you're content
In your tiny cage:
Not a carol thence is sent
But for happiness is meant--
Wisdom pure as sage:
Teaching, the true poet's part
Is to sing with merry heart.

So, lie down thou peevish pen,
Eyes, shake off all tears;
And my wee bird, sing again:
I'll translate your song to men
In these future years.
'Howsoe'er thy lot's assigned,
Bear it with a cheerful mind.'

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