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The Song-Sparrow

A poem about the song sparrow and how we feel when we hear them return each year and hear them sing. Henry VanDyke's poem reflects feelings of cheer upon hearing the bird sing, a feeling we can all relate to after a long winter and we hear that first song.



The Song-Sparrow
Poet: Henry VanDyke


There is a bird I know so well,
It seems as if he must have sung
Beside my crib when I was young;
Before I knew the way to spell
The name of even the smallest bird,
His gentle-joyful song I heard.
Now see if you can tell, my dear.
What bird it is that, every year.
Sings "Sweet — sweet — sweet — very merry cheer."

He comes in March, when winds are strong.
And snow returns to hide the earth;
But still he warms his heart with mirth.
And waits for May. He lingers long
While flowers fade; and every day
Repeats his small, contented lay;
As if to say, we need not fear
The season's change, if love is here
With "Sweet — sweet — sweet — very merry cheer."

He does not wear a Joseph's coat
Of many colors, smart and gay;
His suit is Quaker brown and gray,
With darker patches at his throat.
And yet of all the well-dressed throng
Not one can sing so brave a song.
It makes the pride of looks appear
A vain and foolish thing, to hear
His "Sweet — sweet — sweet — very merry cheer."

A lofty place he does not love,
But sits by choice, and well at ease.
In hedges, and in little trees
That stretch their slender arms above
The meadow-brook; and there he sings
Till all the field with pleasure rings;
And so he tells in every ear,
That lowly homes to heaven are near
In "Sweet — sweet — sweet — very merry cheer."

I like the tune, I like the words;
They seem so true, so free from art.
So friendly, and so full of heart,
That if but one of all the birds
Could be my comrade everywhere.
My little brother of the air.
This is the one I'd choose, my dear.
Because he'd bless me, every year.
With "Sweet — sweet — sweet — very merry cheer."

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