The Lady of Shalott, and Other Poems

The Blackbird


Alfred Tennyson

O BLACKBIRD! sing me something well:
    While all the neighbors shoot thee round,
    I keep smooth plats of fruitful ground,
Where thou mayst warble, eat, and dwell.

The espaliers and the standards all
    Are thine; the range of lawn and park:
    The unnetted black-hearts ripen dark,
All thine, against the garden wall.

Yet, tho’ I spared thee all the spring,
    Thy sole delight is, sitting still,
    With that gold dagger of thy bill
To fret the summer jenneting.

A golden bill! the silver tongue,
    Cold February loved, is dry;
    Plenty corrupts the melody
That made thee famous once when young;

And in the sultry garden-squares,
    Now thy flute-notes are changed to coarse,
    I hear thee not at all, or hoarse
As when a hawker hawks his wares.

Take warning! he that will not sing
    While yon sun prospers in the blue,
    Shall sing for want, ere leaves are new,
Caught in the frozen palms of Spring.

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