The English Goldfinch
When dandelions star the fields,
Another alien singer, I,
Nursed upon England’s flowery wealds,
Seeking no tithe of treasured yields,
Drop sudden from a summer sky
To where the spangled clearing spills
Its gold about your timbered hills.
A mite in splendid motley clad,
I mark the field, I know the hour
When choicest morsels may be had;
When blooms are gay, when days are glad.
And thistledown wafts in a shower
To dance and drift and disappear,
I, who was not, am with you here.
I cling beside the thistle head,
I dance about your cattle’s feet,
I revel in the banquet spread
By many a blazing yellow bed,
And feast until I am replete;
Then seek the house roof’s topmost tile
To linger yet a little while.
No ingrate I, no niggard churl —
Tho’ what I take you well may spare —
Ere azure skies have grown to pearl,
With many a grace-note, many a skirl,
I pay gold coin for golden fare,
And proffer an abundant fee
In long sweet bursts of melody.
C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 79-80
azure = the blue of a clear unclouded sky
ere = before (from the Middle English “er”, itself from the Old English “aer”, meaning early or soon)
gay = happy, joyous, carefree (may also mean well-decorated, bright, attractive) (in modern times it may especially refer to a homosexual, especially a male homosexual; may also refer to something which is no good, pathetic, useless)
niggard = a mean, ungenerous, miserly, stingy person
proffer = offer; a proposal; to hold out an item to someone for acceptance; put something before someone for acceptance