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What The Birds Said Post by :rsanders Category :Poems Author :John Greenleaf Whittier Date :November 2010 Read :3061

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What The Birds Said

THE birds against the April wind
Flew northward, singing as they flew;
They sang, "The land we leave behind
Has swords for corn-blades, blood for dew."

"O wild-birds, flying from the South,
What saw and heard ye, gazing down?"
"We saw the mortar's upturned mouth,
The sickened camp, the blazing town!

"Beneath the bivouac's starry lamps,
We saw your march-worn children die;
In shrouds of moss, in cypress swamps,
We saw your dead uncoffined lie.

"We heard the starving prisoner's sighs,
And saw, from line and trench, your sons
Follow our flight with home-sick eyes
Beyond the battery's smoking guns."

"And heard and saw ye only wrong
And pain," I cried, "O wing-worn flocks?"
"We heard," they sang, "the freedman's song,
The crash of Slavery's broken locks!

"We saw from new, uprising States
The treason-nursing mischief spurned,
As, crowding Freedom's ample gates,
The long estranged and lost returned.

"O'er dusky faces, seamed and old,
And hands horn-hard with unpaid toil,
With hope in every rustling fold,
We saw your star-dropt flag uncoil.

"And struggling up through sounds accursed,
A grateful murmur clomb the air;
A whisper scarcely heard at first,
It filled the listening heavens with prayer.

"And sweet and far, as from a star,
Replied a voice which shall not cease,
Till, drowning all the noise of war,
It sings the blessed song of peace!"

So to me, in a doubtful day
Of chill and slowly greening spring,
Low stooping from the cloudy gray,
The wild-birds sang or seemed to sing.

They vanished in the misty air,
The song went with them in their flight;
But lo! they left the sunset fair,
And in the evening there was light.

April, 1864.

(The end)
John Greenleaf Whittier's poem: What The Birds Said

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A LEGEND OF "THE RED, WHITE, AND BLUE," A. D. 1154-1864.A STRONG and mighty Angel,Calm, terrible, and bright,The cross in blended red and blueUpon his mantle white.Two captives by him kneeling,Each on his broken chain,Sang praise to God who raisethThe dead to life again!Dropping his cross-wrought mantle,"Wear this," the Angel said;"Take thou, O Freedom's priest, its sign,The white, the blue, and red."Then rose up John de MathaIn the strength the Lord Christ gave,And begged through all the land of FranceThe ransom of the slave.The gates of tower and castleBefore him open flew,The drawbridge at his coming fell,The door-bolt backward drew.For all

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This poem was written in strict conformity to the account of the incident as I had it from respectable and trustworthy sources. It has since been the subject of a good deal of conflicting testimony, and the story was probably incorrect in some of its details. It is admitted by all that Barbara Frietchie was no myth, but a worthy and highly esteemed gentlewoman, intensely loyal and a hater of the Slavery Rebellion, holding her Union flag sacred and keeping it with her Bible; that when the Confederates halted before her house, and entered her dooryard, she denounced them in vigorous