In the hush of the drowsy afternoon,
When the very wind on the breast of June
Lies settled, and hot white tracery
Of the shattered sunlight filters free
Through the unstinted leaves to the pied cool sward;
On a dead tree branch sings the saddest bard
Of the birds that be;
'Tis the lone Pewee.
Its note is a sob, and its note is pitched
In a single key, like a soul bewitched
To a mournful minstrelsy.
"Pewee, Pewee," doth it ever cry;
A sad, sweet minor threnody
That threads the aisles of the dim hot grove
Like a tale of a wrong or a vanished love;
And the fancy comes that the wee dun bird
Perchance was a maid, and her heart was stirred
By some lover's rhyme
In a golden time,
And broke when the world turned false and cold;
And her dreams grew dark and her faith grew cold
In some fairy far-off clime.
And her soul crept into the Pewee's breast;
And forever she cries with a strange unrest
For something lost, in the afternoon;
For something missed from the lavish June;
For the heart that died in the long ago;
For the livelong pain that pierceth so:
Thus the Pewee cries,
While the evening lies
Steeped in the languorous still sunshine,
Rapt, to the leaf and the bough and the vine
Of some hopeless paradise.