Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, INVOCATION TO THE CUCKOO, by HORACE SMITH



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INVOCATION TO THE CUCKOO, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O, pursuivant and herald of the spring!
Last Line: I laugh at fortune, and defy old time.
Alternate Author Name(s): Smith, Horatio
Subject(s): Birds; Cuckoos; Fortune; Muses; Time


O, PURSUIVANT and herald of the spring!
Whether thou still dost dwell
In some rose-laurelled dell
Of that charmed island, whose magician king
Bade all its rocks and caves,
Woods, winds, and waves,
Thrill to the dulcet chaunt of Ariel,
Until he broke the spell,
And cast his wand into the shuddering sea --
O hither, hither fleet,
Upon the south wind sweet,
And soothe us with thy vernal melody!

Or whether to the redolent Azores,
Amid whose tufted sheaves
The floral goddess weaves
Her garland, breathing on the glades and shores
Intoxicating air,
Truant! thou dost despair;
Or lingerest still in that meridian nest,
Where myriad piping throats
Rival the warbler's notes,
The saffron namesakes of those islands blest --
O hither, hither wing
Thy flight, and to our longing woodlands sing.

Or in those sea-girt gardens dost thou dwell,
Of plantain, cocoa, palm,
And that red tree, whose balm
Fumed in the holocausts of Israel;
Beneath banana shades,
Guava, and fig-tree glades,
Painting thy plumage in the sapphirine hue
Thrown from the heron blue,
Or rays of the prismatic parroquet --
O, let the perfumed breeze
From those Hesperides
Waft thee once more our eager ears to greet!

For lo! the young leaves flutter in the south,
As if they tried their wings,
While the bee's trumpet brings
News of each bud that pouts its honeyed mouth;
Blue-bells, yellow-cups, jonquils,
Lilies wild and daffodils
Gladden our meads in intertangled wreath;
The sun enamoured lies,
Watching the violets' eyes
On every bank, and drinks their luscious breath;
With open lips the thorn
Proclaims that May is born,
And darest thou, bird of spring, that summons scorn?

"Cuckoo! Cuckoo!" O welcome, welcome notes!
Fields, woods, and waves rejoice
In that recovered voice,
As on the wind its fluty music floats.
At that elixir strain
My youth resumes its reign,
And life's first spring comes blossoming again:
Oh, wonderous bird! if thus
Thy voice miraculous
Can renovate my spirits' vernal prime,
Nor thou, my Muse, forbear
That ecstacy to share --
I laugh at Fortune, and defy old Time.





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