Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CUCKOO, by ALEXANDER ANDERSON

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THE CUCKOO, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Amid the sound of picks to-day
Last Line: The cuckoo's voice for the first time.
Alternate Author Name(s): Surfaceman
Subject(s): Birds; Cuckoos; Railroads; Railways; Trains

AMID the sound of picks to-day,
And shovels rasping on the rail,
A sweet voice came from far away,
From out a gladly greening vale.

My mate look'd up in some surprise;
I half stopp'd humming idle rhyme:
Then said, the moisture in my eyes,
"The cuckoo, Jack, for the first time."

How sweet he sang! I could have stood
For hours, and heard that simple strain;
An early gladness throng'd my blood,
And brought my boyhood back again.

The primrose took a deeper hue,
The dewy grass a greener look;
The violet wore a deeper blue,
A lighter music led the brook.

Each thing to its own depth was stirr'd,
Leaf, flower, and heaven's moving cloud,
As still he piped, that stranger bird,
His mellow May-song clear and loud.

Would I could see him as he sings,
When, as if thought and act were one,
He came; the grey on neck and wings
Turn'd white against the happy sun.

I knew his well-known sober flight,
That boyhood made so dear to me;
And, blessings on him! he stopp'd in sight,
And sang where I could hear and see.

Two simple notes were all he sang,
And yet my manhood fled away;
Dear God! The earth is always young,
And I am young with it to-day.

A wondrous realm of early joy
Grew all around as I became
Among my mates a bearded boy,
That could have wept but for the shame.

For all my purer life, now dead,
Rose up, fair-fashion'd, at the call
Of that grey bird, whose voice had shed
The charm of boyhood over all.

O early hopes and sweet spring tears!
That heart has never known its prime
That stands without a tear and hears
The cuckoo's voice for the first time.

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