A Thrush in a Gilded Cage.

From: The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Osgood and Company 1875 Boston


WAS this the singer I had heard so long,
But never till this evening, face to face?
And were they his, those tones so unlike song,
Those words conventional and commonplace?

Those echoes of the usual social chat
That filled with noise confused the crowded hall;
That smiling face, black coat, and white cravat;
Those fashionable manners,—was this all?

He glanced at freedmen, operas, politics,
And other common topics of the day;
But not one brilliant image did he mix
With all the prosy things he had to say.

At least I hoped that one I long had known,
In the inspired books that built his fame,
Would breathe some word, some sympathetic tone,
Fresh from the ideal region whence he came.

And so I leave the well-dressed, buzzing crowd,
And vent my spleen alone here by my fire;
Mourning the fading of my golden cloud,
The disappointment of my life’s desire.

Simple enthusiast! why do you require
A budding rose for every thorny stalk?
Why must we poets always bear the lyre
And sing, when fashion forces us to talk?

Only at moments comes the muse’s light.
Alone, like shy wood-thrushes, warble we.
Catch us in traps like this dull crowd to-night,
We are but plain, brown-feathered birds, you see!

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