To a Crow

THY breast triumphant ’gainst the wintry blast
Or the snow, following fast,
Thou cheerily dost sound thy trump forlorn
From the dead field of corn.
Naught daunted by the rough and frozen ground,
Thou takest thy way around;
Grotesquely waddling, loudly glorying,
Descanting on the spring.
Distinctly sounds thine inventory rude
Of certain, future food :
Predictions where will rise from iron plain
The aisled and murmuring grain ;
Clamorous forecasts from thy prophet beak,
Of plenteous store to seek
When thy smug, sentinel form shall follow, black,
The patient reapers’ track.
What solemn conclave of thy kind shall stand,
That day, on the arable land!
Cocking wise eyes where once the scarecrow stood,
Sentry to hardihood!
What comic copies of thyself shall wait
On the creaking pasture gate !
What a watchful eye, alert on them and thee,
Thy mate in the sycamore tree!
But now thou standest, only of thy kind,
In the rough winter’s wind:
Proprietor unchallenged of the field,
Lord of its future yield ;
Boaster of plenty, harbinger of ease,
’Mid the lorn, shivering trees ;
Boist’rously jocular and well content,
Though naught thy nourishment.
O bird indomitable, of raucous note
From winter-hoarsened throat!
Teach me thy courage, thy bold, common skill
Against all threatening ill. Help me to meet, to bravely conquer, fate,
Though, like thee, desolate;
Find in the wintry midst of misery
Joyance of days to be.
Teach me thy song derided, the refrain
Of jollity in thy strain;
Teach me thy note insistent, its full scope
Of quaint and strenuous hope.
Adieu, brave bird, adieu ! and as thy flight
Hastens to meet the night,
So may our hearts, exultant, spring to greet
Fate’s dark, swift-coming feet.
So may our souls, unfaltering, rise serene
Where doubt and death have been,
Into the night and silence ; our last cry
A jubilant song, as Life goes hurrying by !
Evelyn Phinney.