The Singing Garden

The Butcher Bird

C.J. Dennis

I MIGHT charm you with my song,
    Could you but forget my trade,
Where I pipe the autumn long
    In some bowered wattle glade—
Pipe a rollicking refrain
    Such as Circe might not scorn,
Jovial amongst my slain
    Grimly dangling from the thorn.

Never yet had siren sung
    From a falser heart than mine,
Witness these grim trophies hung
    Round me, while a cadence fine
Ripples on the balmy air
    To the Fall’s soft winds astir,
While anew I set my snare
    For some feathered voyager.

There’s a note of careless glee,
    Impish laughter in my lay;
Droll duets my mate with me
    Improvises. We are gay
Lest the silence, were we dumb,
    Should betray the evil mind
Of hunter and of huntress come
    To bring destruction to our kind.

Yet, tho’ grisly be my trade,
    Is man’s consciense clear as mine,
Singing in my wattle glade
    Where I innocently dine?
And, when autumn comes again,
    Haply you’ll forget it all,
Lured anew by that refrain
    Of the singing cannibal.

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