Suggested by the Cover of a Volume of Keats's

by Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell

Wild little bird, who chose thee for a sign

To put upon the cover of this book?

Who heard thee singing in the distance dim,

The vague, far greenness of the enshrouding wood,

When the damp freshness of the morning earth

Was full of pungent sweetness and thy song?

Who followed over moss and twisted roots,

And pushed through the wet leaves of trailing vines

Where slanting sunbeams gleamed uncertainly,

While ever clearer came the dropping notes,

Until, at last, two widening trunks disclosed

Thee singing on a spray of branching beech,

Hidden, then seen; and always that same song

Of joyful sweetness, rapture incarnate,

Filled the hushed, rustling stillness of the wood?

We do not know what bird thou art. Perhaps

That fairy bird, fabled in island tale,

Who never sings but once, and then his song

Is of such fearful beauty that he dies

From sheer exuberance of melody.

For this they took thee, little bird, for this

They captured thee, tilting among the leaves,

And stamped thee for a symbol on this book.

For it contains a song surpassing thine,

Richer, more sweet, more poignant. And the poet

Who felt this burning beauty, and whose heart

Was full of loveliest things, sang all he knew

A little while, and then he died; too frail

To bear this untamed, passionate burst of song.