Poetry Corner – Birds of Passage

BLACK shadows fall 
 From the lindens tall, 
 That lift aloft their massive wall 
 Against the southern sky; 

 And from the realms 
 Of the shadowy elms 
 A tide-like darkness overwhelms 
 The fields that round us lie. 

 But the night is fair, 
 And everywhere 
 A warm, soft vapor fills the air, 
 And distant sounds seem near; 

 And above, in the light 
 Of the star-lit night, 
 Swift birds of passage wing their flight 
 Through the dewy atmosphere. 

 I hear the beat 
 Of their pinions fleet, 
 As from the land of snow and sleet 
 They seek a southern lea. 

 I hear the cry 
 Of their voices high 
 Falling dreamily through the sky, 
 But their forms I cannot see. 

 Oh, say not so! 
 Those sounds that flow 
 In murmurs of delight and woe 
 Come not from wings of birds. 

They are the throngs 
 Of the poet's songs, 
 Murmurs of pleasures, and pains, and wrongs, 
 The sound of winged words. 

 This is the cry 
 Of souls, that high 
 On toiling, beating pinions, fly, 
 Seeking a warmer clime. 
 
From their distant flight 
 Through realms of light 
 It falls into our world of night, 
 With the murmuring sound of rhyme. 

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow