The Welcome Swallow [poem by C. J. Dennis]

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

The Welcome Swallow

They know me not to praise and love aright,
Who only pause to mark my headlong flight —
A swift and slender crescent wheeling by
Athwart Spring’s softly amaranthine sky,
And yet am I
Named “Welcome,” joyously by even these
Who, missing all my soft amenities,
Still speak the words that ever heartened men,
And say, “The swallows have come back again.”

No braggart I, no shouting chorister;
But, when the bees ’mid blossoms are astir,
Into the quiet day my song is spent,
A rare, sweet minstrelsy of gladness blent
With calm content.
Content is in my pose; my tawny throat,
Swelling anew to every twittering note
Speaks to the heart of him who listens then:
“Peace reigns; the swallows have come back again.”

Who knows me well could never love me less
For having sought and won my friendliness,
In my sleek coat of unsuspected hues —
Russet and fawn and darkly gleaming blues —
I bring glad news,
Bland harbinger of hope; to him who grieves
I chirp my message from the sunlit eaves.
And, with the sun returning, turn from men
Fate’s frown. “The swallows have come back again.”

C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 31-32

Editor’s notes:
amaranthine = regarding the amaranth plant (a herb); a deep purplish red color; a never-fading flower; eternally beautiful, everlasting, undying or unfading

blent = blended

harbinger = something that foreshadows a future event or something yet to come; omen; someone or something that announces, indicates, signals, or shows the approach of something (may also refer to: someone who is sent ahead to announce the coming of someone; a herald; someone who is sent ahead to arrange lodgings)

’mid = an abbreviation of “amid” or “amidst”: of or in the middle of an area, group, position, etc.

russet = a reddish brown colour (or light brown, yellowish brown); a coarse reddish brown cloth, especially used for making clothes (may also mean: rustic; homely)

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