A Little Bird that Every One Knows

by Frances Fuller Victor

There's a little bird with a wondrous song—

A little bird that every one knows—

(Though it sings for the most part under the rose),

That is petted and pampered wherever it goes,

And nourished in bosoms gentle and strong.

This petted bird has a crooked beak

And eyes like live coals set in its head,

A gray breast dappled with glowing red—

Dabbled—not dappled, I should have said,

From a fancy it has of which I shall speak.

This eccentricity that I name

Is, that whenever the bird would sing

It darts its black head under its wing,

And moistens its beak in—darling thing!—

A human heart that is broken with shame.

Then this cherished bird its song begins—

Always begins its song one way—

With two little dulcet words, They Say,

Carolled in such a charming way

That the listener's heart it surely wins.

This sweetest of songsters sits beside

Every hearth in this Christian land,

Ever so humble or never so grand,

Gloating o'er crumbs which many a hand

Gathers to nourish it, far and wide.

Over each crumb that it gathers up

It winningly carols those two soft words

In the dulcet notes of the sweetest of birds,

Darting its sharp beak under its wing

As it might in a ruby drinking-cup.

A delicate thing is our bird withal

And owns but a fickle appetite,

So that old and young take a keen delight

In serving it ever, day and night,

With the last gay heart now turned to gall.

Thus, though a dainty dear, it sings

In a very well-conditioned way

A truly wonderful sort of lay,

Whose burden is ever the same—They Say

Darting its dabbled beak under its wings.