“Upon the Flight of a Favourite Owl”
It happen’d in the month of May,
A Lady’s pet flew far away,
From a fine house as bright as day,
To seek a gloomy dwelling.
To thickest woods, as dark as night, 5
Where neither coal nor candle light,
Nor Ladies with their eyes so bright,
Would set his pipe a-yelling.
But Robin Redbreast, he comes in,
When Winter’s frosts and snows begin, 10
Says, “Ladies, please to let me in,
To warm me by your fire.
Your hospitable care I claim;
The helpless you do oft maintain:
I only ask a little grain, 15
‘Tis all that I require.
Let Owls in solitude seek rest,
To me good company is best;
None ever was with want oppress’d
When under your protection.” 20
The Ladies smil’d to see their guest,
And kindly thus the bird address’d:
“We’ll skreen you till the Winter’s past,
And warm you in our dwelling.
With bounteous hand we will maintain, 25
And keep you from the wind and rain,
That cheerful here you may remain,
And let the wind be bell’wing.”
Then Robin Redbreast made a bow:
“Ladies, a thousand thanks to you, 30
Your kindness you shall never rue,
In granting my desire.
May Providence keep you from harm,
And fill your stack-yard and your barn,
And shield you safely from the storm, 35
And warm you in a caul’ day.
And when ye walk among your trees,
The ground that’s damp I’ll spread with leaves,
And spare the flow’rs to feed your bees,
That ye may still have honey.” 40
The bees that suck the summer flowers,
From labour, all their sweetness pours,
And plenty, in a golden shower,
Supplies the land with money.
The sun did shine, he took his leave, 45
And many a bow and glance did give,
Then gallantly his wings did wave,
“Good-morrow to you Ladies.”
8 pipe “The voice or vocal cords” (OED).
23 skreen Variant of “screen,” “to shelter or protect” (OED).
33 Providence “The care of God over all beings” (Johnson).
34 stack-yard “A farmyard where stacks of hay are stored” (OED).
36 caul’ Variant of “cauld,” Scottish form of “cold” (SND).
SOURCE: A Collection of Poems (Glasgow, 1798), pp. 15-17. [Google Books]
Edited by Grace Elfers