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New Zealand Bird Songs

The First Night

page 40

The First Night

In the deep December night,
When each sandalled wind was still,
To the listening ear of earth
Spoke the Bell-bird from the hill:

“O my bubbling peal of bells,
O my little melody,
Let me chime Your coming in,
Let me bless You from a tree!”

Said the Hihi, glowing gold:
“With my stitch that comes and goes,
O my naked little Christ,
Let me stitch Your bits of clothes!”

Said the Bittern, booming deep:
“Little Soldier, in that night
When the spears shall crowd you thick,
Let me drum Your foes to flight.”

And the Tern, with sailor wing:
“Little Salt, Who'll choose to be
Friend of all poor fishermen,
Take a blessing from the sea.”

Sang the Tui—God, how clear—
“Little Love, oh, come away!
Come into the bush to-night;
We shall love You more than they.”

page 41

So into the quiet dripped
The great tender, fluting words,
And a cross of stars burned blue
At the blessing of the birds.