by: Sara Coleridge (1802-1852)

WO golden canaries escaped from their cage,
And flew to the wood whence their ancestors came,
Determined in sylvan pursuits to engage,
And with their wild cousins relationship claim.

And soon they fell in with a carolling party,
Just like the green linnets of England's fair isle;
They met with a welcome both tender and hearty;
The green birds received them in excellent style.

Said they, "Now you're come, you shall live upon clover,
Such jolly fat grubs, and such delicate flies!
Your dinners of flax-seed, my boys, are quite over;
At present we'll put off our critical eyes!

"No doubt, by and by, you'll regain your complexions,
Your jaundice the air of the woods will disperse;
You'll then be presented to all our connexions:
At present, indeed, you could hardly look worse.

"'Tis fretting, no doubt that has made you turn yellow,
Like trees that have shed both their blossoms and fruit."
"We're green as the leaves," cried a pert little fellow;
"But you are as yellow as any crow's foot."

Astonished, the strangers now opened their eyes;
Said one, "These remarks are exceedingly strange;
Our fine gilded feathers excite your surprise;
Such plumage for yours we'd be sorry to change.

"We thought your green jackets were shabby enough,
But that we set down to your countrified lives;
No doubt, in the forest, you've lived in the rough,
Mid brambles and brushwood fine dress never thrives.

"The best copper kettle, unless it be scoured,
Is quickly o'ergrown with vile verdigrise rust;
And, doubtless, green grubs you have gladly devoured--
Coarse fare in the wilds must be often discussed."

"Your words," cried the others, "are sharper than sorrel--
To dare to insult us amid our own trees!"
Such language soon turned to a desperate quarrel;
'Twas long ere the forest had felt such a breeze.

Remember, dear children, 'tis nobody's duty
To make observations on person and dress;
Few people agree in their notions of beauty--
'Twere well if young people would value it less.

"The Wild and Tame Canaries" is reprinted from Pretty Lessons in Verse for Good Children. Sare Coleridge. London: John W. Parker, 1839.




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