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The Yellow-Hammer; a Song, By a Suffolk Villager

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2022

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Summary

O sad yellow-hammer! that singest to me,

While blows by my window the swinging birch tree;

That sorrowful cadence is sweet to mine ear,

For it seeks the forgotten, and summons them here.

O sad yellow-hammer! what long years ago

Through the old woody places we two used to go;

Just that very note falling from bough after bough,

It seemed the same bird that sits singing here now.

O sad yellow-hammer! there was a dun cow

Used to be always grazing, where space would allow

The tall grass to shoot up, and primrose leaves green,

Beside the park palings the tree stems between.

O sad yellow-hammer! a little black dog

Used to flit like a spirit through brier and bog;

The violets all purple bent under its tread,

And the rose-leaves fell down on its beautiful head.

You may go to those woody lanes day after day,

But the cow and the dog they are always away;

I hear in the dim shade, un-life-lighted now,

But the sad yellow-hammer that sings on the bough.

When Summer was Summer, beneath those green trees,

A musical voice used to blend with the breeze;

I never went roaming the hazel-wood's side,

But a dark eye flashed by me, a step at my side.

I’ve outgrown the childhood when we wandered so,

And for hazel-nuts caring have left long ago;

But, sad yellow-hammer, within the birch bough,

I care for the tones thou art bringing back now!

O sad yellow-hammer! while thou sing’st to me,

A carol comes floating far over the sea;

A light laugh is ringing where billows gleam pale,

And a distant voice singing to dare the wild gale.

O sweet yellow-hammer! that singest to me,

An anxious heart's blessing thy recompence be;

Ay, shake the light birch bough, and cheerly sing on,

For cheerly thou bringest back them that are gone!

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Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2020

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