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Were I a Bird
by
Edward Smyth Jones


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Were I a bird free born to fly
      Aloof on two wee, downy wings,
My canopy would be the sky
      When rosy morn its dawning springs.

Were I a bird I'd sweetly sing
      Earth's vesper song in tree-tops high,
And chant the carol of the Spring
      To every weary passerby.

 Were I a bird, the sweetest voice
      That human ear has ever heard, ? 
The mocking-bird would be my choice,
      For he's the sweetest singing bird!

Were I a bird my life would be
      In keeping with the Will divine ? 
I'd sing His carols full and free
      In spreading oak and cony pine!

Were I a bird through air I'd roam,
      Just flitting on the morning breeze,
In search of summer's sunny dome,
      To live contentedly at ease.

Were I a bird I'd sing a tune
      For farmers seeking shady rest
 Beneath the spreading oak in June,
      In swinging boughs that rock my nest.

Were I a bird I'd scale the cliff
      When dawns the bleak December day,
Far from the ice and snow I'd shift
      Until the fairest day in May!

Were I a bird, a mocking-bird,
      The King of birdie's singing sons,
My music would fore'er be heard
      As I sweet sang to cheerless ones.

Were I a bird I'd seek my rest
      When jocund Day blows out his light;
In boughs that hover o'er my nest
      I'd sweetly sing, "Good Night, Good Night!"

This poem is in the public domain.

 

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Edward Smyth Jones (1881 - 1968) was born in Natchez, Mississippi. The son of slaves, Edward showed an interest in reading and writing early on and was educated at local schools. At 21, he attended Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in exchange for labor and, six years later, published his first book of poems. Edward relocated to Indianapolis, where he gained a reputation as a hard worker and promising poet. He set a goal of attending Harvard University and, in 1910, with virtually no money, hiked, hitchhiked, and hopped freight trains until he made his way to the campus. Thinking the dirty, bedraggled young man was a tramp, a Harvard staff member had him arrested for vagrancy and Edward spent three days in jail before glowing letters of recommendation from the governor of Indiana, the mayor of Indianapolis and others led to his arraignment. While he was able to attend Boston Latin School for a year, lack of funding kept Edward from ever achieving his goal of attending Harvard. He eventually moved to Chicago, where he worked as a general laborer while continuing to write poems that garnered significant acclaim.

 


New comments are closed for now.
Dorcas:
A full day's work for a feathered friend before he takes his rest.
Posted 04/07/2016 05:20 PM
Dorcas:
A full day's work for a feathered friend before he takes his rest.
Posted 04/07/2016 05:19 PM
transitions:
Lovely poem.
Posted 04/07/2016 02:58 PM
Michael:
Love this! Jones reminds me of Paul Lawrence Dunbar as well as Emily Dickinson. More of him would be welcome.
Posted 04/07/2016 08:11 AM
Laurenepersons:
Playing field, that is!
Posted 04/07/2016 07:39 AM
Laurenepersons:
The poet is truly the "legislator of the world." Beautiful words and great truths soar even when the playing is not even.
Posted 04/07/2016 06:53 AM
JanetruthMartin:
what a poem. what a bio. inspiration at it best! thank-you.
Posted 04/07/2016 06:01 AM
Newf:
Beautiful poem and what an amazing man the poet was. All that accomplished by the son of slaves.
Posted 04/07/2016 05:46 AM
Pekay:
beautiful poem. Much feeling and desire. If only fishes were wishes. Peter.K.
Posted 04/07/2016 05:15 AM
KevinArnold:
Fun; well-crafted.
Posted 04/07/2016 02:12 AM


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