Free Vintage Nature Poem: Who Taught the Birds? by Caris Brooke

British Birds: Cock Skylark; Hen Beam Bird; Hen White Wagtail; Hen Blackcap; Cock Nightingale; Hen Nightingale; Cock and hen house Martin; Cock Marsh Titmouse; Hen Titlark and a Hen Grass Hopper, painted 1736
by Charles Collins (1680 - 1744)

*** --- *** --- ***

by Caris Brooke
(originally published June 17, 1893)

To and fro, to and fro,
From the chestnut tree to the meadow grass,
Day after day I watched her pass;
Where did the little birdie go?
With drooping wing and ruffled breast,
Hopping along with a broken leg,
She came to my window, as if to beg
Crumbs for the little ones up in her nest.

Far and high, touching the sky
Where the chestnut flowers are pink and white,
Every morning and every night
She carried worms, or grubs, or fly,
To a nest that was woven of moss and feather,
Where the little bird-babies chirrup and cheep,
And over the nest-edge try to peep --
Five little yellow bills open together.

Slowly, in pain, in sunshine and rain,
The mother-bird went on her weary way;
But the little ones waited that summer day,
And chirruped and called for her -- all in vain.
I opened my window, and found her lain
Just where the sunlight touches the sill --
Not waiting for crumbs, but cold and still --
Never to fly to her nest again.

Little mouths to be fed, and their mother dead --
Must the poor wee birdies with hunger die?
Watching, I saw another bird fly
Straight to the nest with a crumb of bread.
To and fro, without staying to rest,
She carried them morsels of dainty food,
Till she satisfied all the hungry brood;
Then gathered them warmly under her breast.

* * * * *

Now tell me, Who had whispered to the little birdies's heart
To fly to those forsaken ones, and take their mother's part?

Creative Commons Licence
Public domain poem is from my personal collection. All digitized poems by are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Please credit and link back to as your source if you use or share this work.