First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The Voice of Beauty Drowned

THE VOICE OF BEAUTY DROWNED by ROBERT GRAVES

Cry from the thicket my heart's bird! The other birds woke all around, Rising with toot and howl they stirred Their plumage, broke the trembling sound, They craned their necks, they fluttered wings, 'While we are silent no one sings, And while we sing you hush your throat, Or tune your melody to our note.'

Cry from the thicket my heart's bird! The screams and hootings rose again: They gaped with raucous beaks, they whirred Their noisy plumage; small but plain The lonely hidden singer made A well of grief within the glade. 'Whist, silly fool, be off,' they shout, 'Or we'll come pluck your feathers out.'

Cry from the thicket my heart's bird! Slight and small the lovely cry Came trickling down, but no one heard. Parrot and cuckoo, crow, magpie Jarred horrid notes, the jangling jay Ripped the fine threads of song away, For why should peeping chick aspire To challenge their loud woodland choir?

Cried it so sweet that unseen bird? Lovelier could no music be, Clearer than water, soft as curd, Fresh as the blossomed cherry tree. How sang the others all around? Piercing and harsh, a maddening sound, With Pretty Poll, tuwit-tu-woo, Peewit, caw caw, cuckoo-cuckoo.

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