Oliver Wendell Homes in his library, May 1893
As through the forest, disarrayed
By chill November, late I strayed,
A lonely minstrel of the wood
Was singing to the solitude :
I loved thy music, thus I said,
When o’er thy perch the leaves were spread ;
Sweet was thy song, but sweeter now
Thy carol on the leafless bough.
Sing, little bird ! thy note shall cheer
The sadness of the dying year….
The summer’s throbbing chant is done
And mut ethe choral antiphon ;
The birds have left the shivering pines
To flit among the trellised vines,
Or fan the air with scented plumes
Amid the love-sick orange-blooms,
And thou art here along, – alone,-
Sing, little bird ! the rest have flown….
Fast, fast the lengthening shadows creep,
The songless fowls half asleep,
The air grows chill, the setting sun
May leave thee ere thy song is done,
The pulse that arms thy breast grow cold,
Thy secret die with thee, untold :
The lingering sunset still is bright, –
Sing, little bird ! ‘t will soon be night.
From The Oliver Wendell Holmes Yearbook, An Old-Year Song, published in 1984.
The Thomas Wentworth Higginson Author Collection, The Cambridge Room.