(4 November 1872 - 1934 / Scotia, Lake Erie, Ontario)

The Imprisoned Lark

Did you send your song to the gates of gold
In the days of long ago?
A song of sweetness and gladness untold,
Till fain was my lady to have and to hold-
Ah! my lady did not know.

'Tis love and joy make the soul of a song,
If we only understood.
Can each strain be tender, and true, and strong,
When the days stretch out so weary and long,
Dear little bird of the wood?

The sun came so boldly into your cell-
'Tis the springtime, pretty bird-
And full sweet the story he had to tell
Of doings in meadow and wood and dell,
Till your longing grew and stirred.

This cage of my lady's has silver bars,
And my lady's voice is mild,
But oh, to sail 'twixt the earth and stars,
Forget the hurt of the prison bars
In the gladness of freedom wild!

To soar and circle o'er shadowy glade
Where dewdrops hide from the sun!
O fields where the blossoming clover swayed!
O voices familiar that music made
Till the full, glad day was done!

Ah, then you sang, little bird of the wood,
And you stilled the laughing throng.
To make passionate longing understood
You took the height and depth of your mood
And flung them into a song!

These guests of my lady's did listen, I know,
When out through the silver bars
You sent forth a measure, liquid and low
As laughter of waters that ebb and flow
Under the shimmering stars.

You sang of the sweetest, gladdest, and best
Your longing heart held in store,
Till into the careless listener's breast
There flashed a sudden and vague unrest,
That grew into something more.

Eyes saw for a few brief moments' space
The heights that were never trod,
And, seeing, grew dim for the swift, bold race
That was planned in the hours when youth and grace
Came fresh from the hand of God.

Only a homesick bird of the field
Trilling a glorious note!
Only a homesick bird of the wood
With heaven in your full throat!

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