The Sleep of Birds

By George Sterling

Where canyon-waters dimly fall or creep,—
    Where fields are still, or down the mournful coast,
They cease from singing, and above their sleep
    Wheel the wild moon and half the starry host.

Linnet and gull, the dove and fluting thrush,
    Are silent in the reaccepted dark;
The patient eagles drowse within the hush,
    And evening grasses hide the dreamless lark.

Surely the night seems long, the morrow far,
    Until the eternal fountains foam anew,
And mad with day they see the morning star
    Linger in light, ere splendors touch the dew.

Ere man had faith, theirs were the bonds of trust
    Between their weakness and a Power withdrawn:
The wind of wings, the midnight talon-thrust—
    Knowing of those they slumber till the dawn !

But we how often, fugitives of care,
    Awaken when the night is loud or dumb,
And see the solemn altars of despair,
    And dread the dark, and dread the day to come !

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