THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDFINCH.
I WANDERED, listening, in a wind-blown wood, While all around me, in harmonious flood, Rose the clear singing of the brotherhood Of wing and feather.
Shyly the linnets hid, and twittered there, Larks circled upward in the outer air, Whitethroat, and willow-wren, and whistling stare Singing together.
One beyond others in the joyful throng, Sang in the orchard close, the whole day long, A. crystal cadence of sweet-throated song, Divinely fluted.
Lightly the Goldfinch, e'er he lit to sing, Spread the pale yellow of his painted wing, He, that bears record of his ministering In hues transmuted.
His be the praise of the first Lenten-tide !
Seeing the wooden Cross where Jesus died, This bird the nail within His hand espied, And tried to ease it.
Vainly he fluttered on a tender wing, Held in his slender beak the cruel thing, Still, with his gentle might endeavouring But to release it.
Then, as he strove, spake One—a dying space- " Take, for thy pity, as a sign of grace, Semblance of this, My blood, upon thy face, A living glory; That while the generations come and go, While the earth blossoms, and the waters flow, Children may honour thee, and mankind know Thy loving story."
Lord of dominion over man and beast, That out of nothing madest great and least, Thine everlasting praise hath never ceased From heavenly choir.
And from the earth, in these awakening days, I hear from meadowland and orchard ways Anthem and madrigal and roundelays That never tire.
Grant Thou, to us of the untoward will, Tardy of utterance, in praise too still, Some of this happiness our hearts to fill, And our mute voices ; That, like the birds, our song may rise on wings, Seeking the rapture of celestial things.
Lord! let us serve Thee with the mind that brings Life that rejoices.