The Flame-Breasted Robin [poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in The Singing Garden (1935).]

The Flame-Breasted Robin

Now upon the trellis sitting,
Now along the fencetop flitting,
Meekly modest in my attitudes and poses;
’Neath my breast incarnadine
Can this midget heart of mine
Hold one half the vanity my song discloses?

First a nervous little flutter,
Now a chirp and now a stutter,
Then I lift my snow-flecked crown to the refrain
Of my plaintive little ditty:
“Oh, the pity! What a pity!
Oh, and isn’t it a pity my poor Jenny is so plain!”

See, my burning front of flame
Puts the crimson rose to shame;
And my singing leads the chorus of the morning;
But my silent little mate,
Mute upon the garden gate,
Sober Jenny, hasn’t any such adorning.

Tho’ I’m handsomer than others,
Do not think I boast, my brothers;
I’m the meekest little chorister a-wing.
Still, I’m tuneful, wise and witty.
Can you doubt, who hears my ditty?
“Ah, but isn’t it a pity that my Jenny cannot sing!”

C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 39-40

Editor’s notes:
crown = the head; the top of the head; the top of a skull

incarnadine = a blood-red colour, like that of raw flesh; a pinkish-red colour, like that of flesh (of European/White people); a bright crimson colour (derived from the Latin “incarnari”, “be made flesh”, from the Latin root “carn”, meaning “flesh”); may also mean: to redden

’neath = beneath

Vernacular spelling in the original text:
tho’ (though)

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