A wistful note from out the sky,
“Pure, pure, pure,” in plaintive tone,
As if the wand’rer were alone,
And hardly knew to sing or cry.
But now a flash of eager wing,
Flitting, twinkling by the wall,
And pleading sweet and am’rous call,–
Ah, now I know his heart doth sing!
O bluebird, welcome back again,
Thy azure coat and ruddy vest
Are hues that April loveth best,–
Warm skies above the furrowed plain.
The farm boy hears thy tender voice,
And visions come of crystal days,
With sugar-camps in maple ways,
And scenes that make his heart rejoice.
The lucid smoke drifts on the breeze,
The steaming pans are mantling white,
And thy blue wing’s a joyous sight,
Among the brown and leafless trees.
Now loosened currents glance and run,
And buckets shine on sturdy boles,
The forest folk peep from their holes,
And work is play from sun to sun.
The Downy beats his sounding limb,
The nuthatch pipes his nasal call,
And robin perched on treetop tall
Heavenward lifts his evening hymn.
Now go and bring thy homesick bride,
Persuade her here is just the place
To build a home and found a race
In Downy’s cell, my lodge beside.
John Burroughs (April 3, 1837 – March 29, 1921) was an American naturalist and nature essayist, active in the U.S. conservation movement. The first of his essay collections was Wake-Robin in 1871. In the words of his biographer Edward Renehan, Burroughs’ special identity was less that of a scientific naturalist than that of “a literary naturalist with a duty to record his own unique perceptions of the natural world.” The result was a body of work whose resonance with the tone of its cultural moment explains both its popularity at that time, and its relative obscurity since.