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 head with mirth,
And waits for May. He lingers long
While flowers fade, and every day
Repeats his sweet, 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.”
Henry van Dyke.