John Burroughs (3 April 1837 – 29 March 1921 / Roxbury, New York)
My friend and neighbor through the year,
Of my crops of fruit and grain,
Of my woods and furrowed plain,
Claim thy tithings right and left,
I shall never call it theft.
Nature wisely made the law,
And I fail to find a flaw
In thy title to the earth,
And all it holds of any worth.
I like thy self-complacent air,
I like thy ways so free from care,
Thy landlord stroll about my fields,
Quickly noting what each yields;
Thy courtly mien and bearing bold,
As if thy claim were bought with gold;
Thy floating shape against the sky,
When days are calm and clouds are high;
Thy thrifty flight ere rise of sun,
Thy homing clans when day is done.
Hues protective are not thine,
So sleek thy coat each quill doth shine.
Diamond black to end of toe,
Thy counterpoint the crystal snow.
Never plaintive nor appealing,
Quite at home when thou art stealing,
Always groomed to tip of feather,
Calm and trim in every weather,
Morn till night my woods policing,
Every sound thy watch increasing.
Hawk and owl in tree-top hiding
Feel the shame of thy deriding.
Naught escapes thy observation,
None but dread thy accusation.
Hunters, prowlers, woodland lovers
Vainly seek the leafy covers.
Noisy, scheming, and predacious,
With demeanor almost gracious,
Dowered with leisure, void of hurry,
Void of fuss and void of worry,
Friendly bandit, Robin Hood,
Judge and jury of the wood,
Or Captain Kidd of sable quill,
Hiding treasures in the hill,
Nature made thee for each season,
Gave thee wit for ample reason,
Good crow wit that's always burnished
Like the coat her care has furnished.
May thy numbers ne'er diminish!
I'll befriend thee till life's finish.
May I never cease to meet thee!
May I never have to eat thee!
And mayest thou never have to fare so
That thou playest the part of scarecrow!
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