Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

The City Pigeon

With all is the beautiful lingerer in our crowded cities a favorite. All love this gentle bird, that, shunning the cool and quiet woods, stays with man in the hot and noisy town, and, amid strife and the war of passions, passes ever before him a living emblem of peace. "It is no light chance," says Willis, in his exquisite lines "To a City Pigeon,"

"It is no light chance. Thou art set apart Wisely by Him who has tamed the heart, To stir the love for the bright and fair, That else were sealed in this crowded air; I sometimes dream Angelic rays from thy pinions gleam."

In these same lines, how truly and how sweetly has he said:

"A holy gift is thine, sweet bird! Thou'rt named with childhood's earliest word! Thou'rt linked with all that's fresh and wild, In the prison'd thoughts of a city child; And thy glossy wings Are its brightest image of moving things."

In the language of the same poet, how often have we said, as we looked forth upon the gentle bird:

"Stoop to my window, thou beautiful dove; Thy daily visits have touched my love. I watch thy coming, and list the note That stirs so low in thy mellow throat; And my joy is high To catch the glance of thy gentle eye."

In his lines to "The Belfry Pigeon," Mr Willis has expressed most truthfully the feelings and thoughts which all have had for this gentle creature, which,

"Alone of the feathered race, Doth look unscared on the human face."

As we know of nothing on the subject more appropriate and beautiful than the address referred to, we will copy it for our young readers.


"On the cross beam under the Old South Bell, The nest of a pigeon is builded well. In summer and winter that bird is there, Out and in with the morning air. I love to see him track the street, With his wary eye and active feet; And I often watch him as he springs, Circling the steeples with easy wings, Till across the dial his shade has pass'd, And the belfry edge is gained at last. 'Tis a bird I love, with its brooding note, And the trembling throb in its mottled throat; There's a human look in its swelling breast, And the gentle curve of its lowly crest; And I often stop with the fear I feel-- He runs so close to the rapid wheel.

"Whatever is rung on that noisy bell-- Chime of the hour or funeral knell-- The dove in the belfry must hear it well. When the tongue swings out to the midnight moon-- When the sexton cheerily rings for noon-- When the clock strikes clear at morning light-- When the child is waked with 'nine at night'-- When the chimes play soft in the Sabbath air, Filling the spirit with love of prayer-- Whatever tale in the bell is heard, He broods on his folded feet unstirr'd, Or, rising half in his rounded nest, He takes the time to smooth his breast, Then drops again with filmed eyes, And sleeps as the last vibration dies.

"Sweet bird! I would that I could be A hermit in the crowd like thee! With wings to fly to wood and glen. Thy lot, like mine, is cast with men, And daily, with unwilling feet, I tread, like thee, the crowded street; But, unlike me, when day is o'er, Thou canst dismiss the world and soar; Or, at a half-felt wish for rest, Canst smooth the feathers on thy breast, And drop, forgetful, to thy nest."


       *      *      *      *      *      *      *       *       *       *       *       *

T.S. Arthur