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To Some Birds Flown Away
by [?]


(“Enfants! Oh! revenez!”)

[XXII, April, 1837]

Children, come back–come back, I say–
You whom my folly chased away
A moment since, from this my room,
With bristling wrath and words of doom!
What had you done, you bandits small,
With lips as red as roses all?
What crime?–what wild and hapless deed?
What porcelain vase by you was split
To thousand pieces? Did you need
For pastime, as you handled it,
Some Gothic missal to enrich
With your designs fantastical?
Or did your tearing fingers fall
On some old picture? Which, oh, which
Your dreadful fault? Not one of these;
Only when left yourselves to please
This morning but a moment here
‘Mid papers tinted by my mind
You took some embryo verses near–
Half formed, but fully well designed
To open out. Your hearts desire
Was but to throw them on the fire,
Then watch the tinder, for the sight
Of shining sparks that twinkle bright
As little boats that sail at night,
Or like the window lights that spring
From out the dark at evening.

‘Twas all, and you were well content.
Fine loss was this for anger’s vent–
A strophe ill made midst your play,
Sweet sound that chased the words away
In stormy flight. An ode quite new,
With rhymes inflated–stanzas, too,
That panted, moving lazily,
And heavy Alexandrine lines
That seemed to jostle bodily,
Like children full of play designs
That spring at once from schoolroom’s form.
Instead of all this angry storm,
Another might have thanked you well
For saving prey from that grim cell,
That hollowed den ‘neath journals great,
Where editors who poets flout
With their demoniac laughter shout.
And I have scolded you! What fate
For charming dwarfs who never meant
To anger Hercules! And I
Have frightened you!–My chair I sent
Back to the wall, and then let fly
A shower of words the envious use–
“Get out,” I said, with hard abuse,
“Leave me alone–alone I say.”
Poor man alone! Ah, well-a-day,
What fine result–what triumph rare!
As one turns from the coffin’d dead
So left you me:–I could but stare
Upon the door through which you fled–
I proud and grave–but punished quite.
And what care you for this my plight!–
You have recovered liberty,
Fresh air and lovely scenery,
The spacious park and wished-for grass;
The running stream, where you can throw
A blade to watch what comes to pass;
Blue sky, and all the spring can show;
Nature, serenely fair to see;
The book of birds and spirits free,
God’s poem, worth much more than mine,
Where flowers for perfect stanzas shine–
Flowers that a child may pluck in play,
No harsh voice frightening it away.
And I’m alone–all pleasure o’er–
Alone with pedant called “Ennui,”
For since the morning at my door
Ennui has waited patiently.
That docto-r-London born, you mark,
One Sunday in December dark,
Poor little ones–he loved you not,
And waited till the chance he got
To enter as you passed away,
And in the very corner where
You played with frolic laughter gay,
He sighs and yawns with weary air.

What can I do? Shall I read books,
Or write more verse–or turn fond looks
Upon enamels blue, sea-green,
And white–on insects rare as seen
Upon my Dresden china ware?
Or shall I touch the globe, and care
To make the heavens turn upon
Its axis? No, not one–not one
Of all these things care I to do;
All wearies me–I think of you.
In truth with you my sunshine fled,
And gayety with your light tread–
Glad noise that set me dreaming still.
‘Twas my delight to watch your will,
And mark you point with finger-tips
To help your spelling out a word;
To see the pearls between your lips
When I your joyous laughter heard;
Your honest brows that looked so true,
And said “Oh, yes!” to each intent;
Your great bright eyes, that loved to view
With admiration innocent
My fine old Sevres; the eager thought
That every kind of knowledge sought;
The elbow push with “Come and see!”