To the Birds
by Peter McArthur
HOW dare you sing such cheerful notes?
You show a woful lack of taste;
How dare you pour from happy throats
Such merry songs with raptured haste,
While all our poets wail and weep,
And readers sob themselves to sleep?
'Tis clear to me, you've never read
The turgid tomes that Ibsen writes,
Or mourned with Tolstoi virtue dead,
Nor over Howells pored o' nights;
For you are glad with all your power;
For shame! Go study Schopenhauer.
You never sing save when you feel
The ecstasy of thoughtless joy;
All silent through the boughs you steal
When storms or fears or pains annoy;
With bards 'tis quite a different thing,
The more they ache the more they sing.
All happiness they sadly shirk,
And from all pleasure hold aloof,
And are so tearful when they work
They write on paper waterproof,
And on each page express a yearn
To fill a cinerary urn.
Go, little birds, it gives me pain
To hear your happy melodies!
My plaudits you can never gain
With old and worn-out tunes like these;
More up-to-date your songs must be
Ere you can merit praise from me.