by: Sylvia Lynd

      E are much honoured by your choice,
      O golden birds of silver voice,
      That in our garden you should find
      A pleasaunce to your mind--
      The painted pear of all our trees,
      The south slope towards the gooseberries
      Where all day long the sun is warm--
      Combining use with charm.
      Did the pink tulips take your eye?
      Or Breach's barn secure and high
      To guard you from some chance mishap
      Of gales through Shoreham gap?
      First you were spied a flighting pair
      Flashing and fluting here and there,
      Until in stealth the nest was made
      And graciously you stayed.
      Now when I pause beneath your tree
      An anxious head peeps down at me,
      A crimson jewel in its crown,
      I looking up, you down:--
      I wonder if my stripey shawl
      Seems pleasant in your eyes at all,
      I can assure you that your wings
      Are most delightful things.
      Sweet birds, I pray, be not severe,
      Do not deplore our presence here,
      We cannot all be goldfinches
      In such a world as this.
      The shaded lawn, the bordered flowers,
      We'll call them yours instead of ours,
      The pinks and the acacia tree
      Shall own your sovereignty.
      And, if you let us, we will prove
      Our lowly and obsequious love,
      And when your little grey-pates hatch
      We'll help you to keep watch.
      No prowling stranger cats shall come
      About your high celestial home,
      With dangerous sounds we'll chase them hence
      And ask no recompense.
      And he, the Ethiope of our house,
      Slayer of beetle and of mouse,
      Huge, lazy, fond, whom we love well--
      Peter shall wear a bell.
      Believe me, birds, you need not fear,
      No cages or limed twigs are here,
      We only ask to live with you
      In this green garden, too.
      And when in other shining summers
      Our place is taken by new-comers,
      We'll leave them with the house and hill
      The goldfinches' good will.
      Your dainty flights, your painted coats,
      The silver mist that is your notes,
      And all your sweet caressing ways
      Shall decorate their days.
      And never will the thought of spring
      Visit our minds, but a gold wing
      Will flash among the green and blue,
      And we'll remember you.

'The Return of the Goldfinches' is reprinted from An Anthology of Modern Verse. Ed. A. Methuen. London: Methuen & Co., 1921.




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