Celia Thaxter

Jun 29, 1835 - Aug 25, 1894


The Wounded Curlew

by Celia Thaxter

By yonder sandy cove where, every day,
The tide flows in and out,
A lonely bird in sober brown and gray
Limps patiently about;

And round the basin's edge, o'er stones and sand,
And many a fringing weed,
He steals, or on the rocky ledge doth stand,
Crying, with none to heed.

But sometimes from the distance he can hear
His comrades' swift reply;
Sometimes the air rings with their music clear,
Sounding from sea and sky.

And then, oh then his.tender voice, so sweet,
Is shaken with his pain,
For broken are his pinions strong and fleet,
Never to soar again.

Wounded and lame and languishing he lives,
Once glad and blithe and free,
And in his prison limits frets and strives
His ancient self to be.

The little sandpipers about him play,
The shining waves they skim,
Or round his feet they seek their food, and stay
As if to comfort him.

My pity cannot help him, though.his plaint
Brings tears of wistfulness;
Still must he grieve and mourn, forlorn and faint,
None may his wrong redress.

O bright-eyed boy! was there no better way
A moment's joy to gain
Than to make sorrow that must mar the day
With such despairing pain?

O children, drop the gun, the cruel stone!
Oh listen to my words,
And hear with me the wounded curlew moan --
Have mercy on the birds!


Poems For Children
Copyright 1883
Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston
Illustrator: Miss A. G. Plymptom