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Behind my father's house there sang a bird,
In the forest, on the lime,

--In olden time--
Across the heavy corn a sunbeam ran,
In the slow days;
A butterfly was flitting through the azure haze
The breeze would fan;
The future raised fantastic towers above
A river winding far as eye could see;
They were the castle towers of faithful love.
--The bird sang them to me.


Behind my father's house, there sang a bird
My young dream's song;
And, voice of the plain, and voice of the wave,
And voice of April woods whose burgeons throng,
The echo of the future laughing lied;
Of the young heart the soul is the mad slave,
And both sang all along
The spring and summertide.


Behind my father's house, on a lime in the wood,
A bird sang of good hope and hardihood,
Life and its joys, tournies, and battlefields,
The lance that shivers and the lance that yields;
The laugh of the lady looking down
Upon the victor from her high turret;
The lady sitting in her silken gown,
And pressing to her heart an amulet.


Behind my father's house, there sang a bird,
From dawn to dusk I heard the song of him;
And in the evenings of my loneliness
His song would haunt me like a long caress;
So long that at the chance of some sweet word,
I called to mind the tunes which I did learn,
Among the mosses and the brakes of fern,
And sang them back again to ladies dim,
Ladies with hair brown, red, or black as coal,
Ladies of mist without a soul.


Behind my father's house, upon the lime,
A bird was singing all the songs of pride;
I stood upon the threshold and I heard;
The old days of proud massacres have died;
My prides, that foamed under my will's high rein,
Would rear at any coronation's festive strain,
And they have smelt the flower of the grave,
Odours of catafalcos bitter and suave;
My vanities are in their grave.


Behind my father's house, there sang a bird,
Which in my soul and in my heart this evening sings;
I breathe the burning shadow where a censer swings,
O rutilant gardens where my youth has lain,
And all your seasons, all your hours I live again,
The laughing joy of bright leaves April lies on,
Joy in the blue smiles of the lake on the horizon,
Joy in prostrations of the passive plain,
Joy unclosed in shiverings;
The young delights that filled our eyes
--Rising and setting suns--stars of the skies,
And Life's wide portals open flung
To harvests young!


Behind my father's house, upon the lime,
Behind my father's house, there sang a bird,

In music of flutes and oboes,
Music that vaunted thee,
Thou, my Dream and my Choice;
O dost thou know how at the evening chime
My life grew languid listening to the voice;
And from how far my soul has followed thee,
How far thy shadow tempted it to flee
Toward's Love's Castle which the bird sang of
In the forest, on the lime?
--In olden time.