Tabb’s Poetry I


To a Songster

O little bird, I’d be
A Poet like to thee,
Singing my native song—
Brief to the ear, but long
      To Love and Memory. 

In Solitude

Like as a brook that all night long
Sings, as at noon, a bubble-song
   To Sleep’s unheeding ear,
The Poet to himself must sing,
When none but God is listening
   The lullaby to hear. 


O leaf upon the highest bough,
The Poet of the woods art thou
   To whom alone ’tis given—
The farthest from thy place of birth—
To hold communion with the earth,
   Nor lose the light of Heaven.

O leaf upon the topmost height,
Amid thy heritage of light
   Unsheltered by a shade,
’Tis thine the loneliness to know
That leans for sympathy below
   Nor finds what it hath made. 


The sweetest warblers—one in light,
And one in darkness, screened from sight—
   By voice alone prevail;
So let the poet sing his song,
As far secluded from the throng
   As lark or nightingale. 


A gleam of heaven; the passion of a Star
   Held captive in the clasp of harmony:
A silence, shell-like breathing from afar
   The rapture of the deep—eternity.

John B. Tabb



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“To a Songster”: Later Lyrics, p. 1; Poetry p. vii. April 1902. A songster is a male songbird.

“In Solitude”: Lyrics, p. 57; Poetry, p. 168. March 1896.

“Exaltation”: Lyrics, p. 5; Poetry, p. 26. May 1895.

“Hidden”: Later Poems, p. 92; Poetry, p. 168. 1910. The sweetest warblers are the lark and nightingale. A lark is any of a number of songbirds (family Alaudidae); only one, the Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris), lives in North America. The Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) is a flycatcher (family Muscicapidae) that summers in England and Europe, and is famed in poetry for singing through the night.

“Poetry”: Poems, p. 136; Poetry, p. 359. July-August 1892. Harmony is the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions with a pleasing effect or a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts. Father Tabb was a gifted pianist.


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