The Crows At Washington

Slow flapping to the setting sun
By twos and threes, in wavering rows.
As twilight shadows dimly close,
The crows fly over Washington.

Under the crimson sunset sky
Virginian woodlands leafless lie,
In wintry torpor bleak and dun.
Through the rich vault of heaven, which shines
Like a warmed opal in the sun,
With wide advance in broken lines
The crows fly over Washington.

Over the Capitol's white dome,
Across the obelisk soaring bare
To prick the clouds, they travel home,
Content and weary, winnowing
With dusky vans the golden air,
Which hints the coming of the spring,
Though winter whitens Washington.

The dim, deep air, the level ray
Of dying sunlight on their plumes,
Give them a beauty not their own;
Their hoarse notes fail and faint away;
A rustling murmur floating down
Blends sweetly with the thickening glooms;
They touch with grace the fading day,
Slow flying over Washington.

I stand and watch with clouded eyes
These dim battalions move along;
Out of the distance memory cries
Of days when life and hope were strong,
When love was prompt and wit was gay;
Even then, at evening, as to-day,
I watched, while twilight hovered dim
Over Potomac's curving rim,
This selfsame flight of homing crows
Blotting the sunset's fading rose,
Above the roofs of Washington.

by John Hay

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