A Tale. June 1793
In Scotland's realm, where trees are few
Nor even shrubs abound;
But where, however bleak the view
Some better things are found;
For husband there and wife may boast
Their union undefiled,
And false ones are as rare almost
As hedge-rows in the wild;
In Scotland's realm forlorn and bare
The history chanced of late,--
This history of a wedded pair,
A chaffinch and his mate,.
The spring drew near, each felt a breast
With genial instinct filled;
They paired, and would have built a nest,
But found not where to build.
The heaths uncovered and the moors
Except with snow and sleet,
Sea-beaten rocks and naked shores
Could yield them no retreat.
Long time a breeding-place they sought,
Till both grew vexed and tired;
At length a ship arriving brought
The good so long desired.
A ship? -- could such a restless thing
Afford them place of rest?
Or was the merchant charged to bring
The homeless birds a nest?
Hush! -- silent hearers profit most,--
This racer of the sea
Proved kinder to them than the coast,
It served them with a tree.
But such a tree! 'twas shaven deal,
The tree they call a mast,
And had a hollow with a wheel
Through which the tackle passed.
Within that cavity aloft
Their roofless home they fixed,
Formed with materials neat and soft,
Bents, wool, and feathers mixed.
Four ivory eggs soon pave its floor,
With russet specks bedight;
The vessel weighs, forsakes the shore,
And lessens to the sight.
The mother-bird is gone to sea,
As she had changed her kind;
But goes the male? Far wiser he
Is doubtless left behind.
No;-- soon as from ashore he saw
The winged mansion move,
He flew to reach it, by a law
Of never-failing love.
Then perching at his consort's side,
Was briskly borne along,
The billows and the blast defied,
And cheered her with a song.
The seaman with sincere delight
His feathered shipmates eyes,
Scarce less exulting in the sight
Than when he tows a prize.
For seamen much believe in signs,
And from a chance so new
Each some approaching good divines,
And may his hope be true!
Hail, honoured land! a desert where
Not even birds can hide,
Yet parent of this loving pair
Whom nothing could divide.
And ye who, rather than resign
Your matrimonial plan,
Were not afraid to plough the brine
In company with man;
For whose lean country much disdain
We English often show,
Yet from a richer nothing gain
But wantonness and woe;
Be it your fortune, year by year,
The same resource to prove,
And may ye, sometimes landing here,
Instruct us how to love!
William Cowper's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (A Tale. June 1793 by William Cowper )
Still I Rise
The Road Not Taken
If You Forget Me
Edgar Allan Poe
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
A Dream Within A Dream
Edgar Allan Poe
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe