It’s very sad the country
That used to be so gay;
There’s little traffic on the road
Betwixt the night and day.
But through the long gold evening
There’s never a creel nor cart.
The silence of the country
Puts fear into my heart.
Still in the long, gold evening,
When nothing passes by,
The blackbird’s shouting his maddest song,
His heart is proud and high.
The cattle in the pastures
They might be painted things;
There’s not the barking of a dog,
But the free bird has wings.
The men and women and children
They creep into the dark,
The houses show no lights at all
For a star in the mirk.
The gay and the sweet country
Her heart is cold with fear,
And only the ghosts go walking
With feet you may not hear.
The sun springs up in splendour,
All in the dewy morn,
There’s no one going the market road
Between the fields of corn.
Only the blackbird’s fluting
So gay, so wild, so loud,
The blackbird whistles the finest tune
Of all the feathered crowd.
All in the ominous quiet
He’s drunken with his song;
Through the delicious dawns and eves
He whistles loud and strong.
The country listens and listens
Her heart is sore afeard;
The blackbird singing his maddest song
Plucks Death by the beard.
Published in Evensong (Oxford: 1922) pp.12-13
Out of copyright