Where the Pelican Builds
and Other Poems

The Belated Swallow

Mary Hannay Foott

“And the birds of the air have nests.”

BELATED swallow, whither flying?
The day is dead, the light is dying,
    The night draws near:
Where is thy nest, slow put together,
Soft-lined with moss and downy feather,
For shelter-place in stress of weather
    And darkness drear?

Past, past, above the lighted city,
Unknowing of my wondering pity,
    Seaward she flies.
Alas, poor bird! what rude awaking
Has driven thee forth, when storms are breaking,
And frightened gulls the waves forsaking
    With warning cries?

Alas, my soul! while leaves are greenest
Thy heedless head thou fondly screenest
    Beneath thy wing.
How bravely thou thy plumage wearest,—
How lightly thou life’s burthen bearest,—
How happily thy home preparest,—
    In careless spring!

Yet Destiny the hour may bring thee
When none of all that sing can sing thee
    To joy or rest!
When all the winds that blow shall blow thee;
And, ere the floods shall overflow thee,
The sunlight linger but to show thee
    Thy shattered nest!

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