What? an English sparrow sing?
Insignificant brown thing,
So common and so bold, 'twould surely bring
Tears of laughter to the eyes
Of the superficial wise
To suggest that that small immigrant could sing.
'Twas the bleakest wintry day,
Earth, sky, water, all were gray,
Of the universe old Boreas seemed king,
As he swept across the lake,
But his empire was at stake,
When that little English sparrow dared to sing.
Not a friend on earth had I,
No horizon to my sky,
No faith that there could be another spring
Cold the world as that gray wall
Of the Auditorium tall
Where I heard that little English sparrow sing.
On the shelving of one stone
He was cuddling all alone;
Oh, the little feet knew bravely how to cling!
As from out the tuneful throat
Came the sweetest, springlike note,
And I truly heard an English sparrow sing.
You may talk for all your days
In the thrush and bluebirds' praise
And all your other harbingers of spring,
But I've never heard a song
Whose echoes I'd prolong
Like that I heard that English sparrow sing.
Oh, my heart's a phonograph
That will register each laugh
And all happy sounds that from the joy-bells ring,
So if cloudy days should come,
In my hours of darkest gloom
I'm sure I'll hear that English sparrow sing.
Even A Sparrow
Painting by Greg Oleson
"Did You Ever Hear An English Sparrow Sing?"
A poem by Bertha Johnston