The Bird

by CONRAD AIKEN
BRING back beauty when you come,
you, the always hurrying home;
bring the fabulous honeycomb,
a hundred summers’ golden foam:
bring back birds the brightest yet,
feathered flame and screaming jet,
the furious claw on passion set,
terror between two eyelids met:
and precious stones, but such as blaze
when sun and tigress stand at gaze,
hers the night’s and his the day’s,
O the perfect cruel phrase!
Bring all these and more, for love
still must airy falsehoods prove —
prove unmoving those who move,
prove unchanging those who love:
and unless you lay them by,
jewels for the heart and eye,
lampless and alone you’ll lie,
loveless and alone you’ll die:
all save him whose breast’s a cage
where the bird that knows no age
sings from the heart though hell should rage,
the whole wide world his music page.