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Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

The Cuckoo


No lyric line I ever penned
The praise this parasitic bird;
And what is more, I don't intend
To write a laudatory word,
Since in my garden robins made
A nest with eggs of dainty spot,
And then a callous cuckoo laid
A lone on on the lot.

Of course the sillies hatched it out
Along with their two tiny chicks,
And there it threw its weight about,
But with the others would not mix.
In fact, it seemed their guts to hate,
And crossly kicked them to the ground,
So that next morning, sorry fate!
Two babes stone dead I found.

These stupid robins, how they strove
To gluttonize that young cuckoo!
And like a prodigy it throve,
And daily greedier it grew.
How it would snap and glup and spit!
Till finally it came to pass,
Growing too big the nest to fit,
It fell out on the grass.

So for a week they fed it there,
As in a nook of turf it lay;
But it was scornful of their care,
for it was twice as big as they.
When lo! one afternoon I heard
A flutelike call: Cuckoo! Cuckoo!
Then suddenly that foulsome bird
Flapped to its feet and flew.

I'm sure it never said goodbye
To its fond foster Pa and Ma,
Though to their desolated sigh
It might have chirruped: "Au revoir."
But no, it went in wanton mood,
Flying the coop for climates new
And so I say: "Ingratitude,
They name's Cuckoo."

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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