Ammon Wrigley - "The Song Thrush"

The following is a transcription of a work by Saddleworth poet Ammon Wrigley (1861-1946).

The Song Thrush

I fling to the sky
Melody flowers
In opulent showers;
Each note
From my speckled throat
Is an airy blossom, an invisible bloom;
Flowers of song that dissolve and perfume
The cool morn air
With odours rare,
Until the air you breathe
Is charged with the garlands I wreathe,
And your tranced spirit moves
Through new lights and new loves,
Fresh gathered and young
From a garden of song!
I sketch,
I paint, I etch,
Melody pictures on every breeze,
Sunlit pastures and leafy trees.
I mass the colours that round me lie
In Impressionist schemes
From inspired dreams;
Lilacs and creams,
Purples and blues,
And wondrous hues
No mortal can teach,
No art ever reach;
I fill meadow and glade
With subtle effects of light and shade;
Sunrise on the morning hills,
Crags and cloughs and winding rills,
Lying clear
In a glorious atmosphere!
I paint
Neither Madonna nor Saint,
Nor hang on the morn’s white walls
Altarpieces from old Cathedrals:
Yet in passion and glow,
I outshine Fra Angelico;
For in my mood I delight
To work a Pre-Raphaelite,
Painting the canvas of air
With minutest care,
Painting the soul of leaf and flower
With supremest power!
I capture
Every rapture
That throbs in the anemone’s heart:
Every beat
Of pulses sweet
Throbs in my own the intensest part:
Of joy and loveliness
I weigh and assess
Each syllable sweet from the speedwell’s lips,
Each ripple of speech that joyously slips
From the globe-flower’s tongue, each beam that glows
From the foxglove’s torch and the wild hedge rose;
And the gossiping daisy all over the meads
Ne’er holds its sweet tongue, but hourly feeds
With daintiest tribute the flow of my song
That my soaring runs; I sustain, I prolong,
Through luxuriant flights
To ethereal heights,
To a realm that lies
Where the morn never dies:
Hear me,
O hear me!
Come near me.
Hear me while impassioned I pour
A tumultuous song of voluptuous lore,
A frolicsome song,
Buoyant and strong,
As full-throated March shouting over the hills,
When the lawns are yellow with daffodils,
And I ask if music was ever impelled
By diviner forces?
If song or speech ever upwelled
From purer sources?
I am no dream
In great Nature’s scheme,
But a force, a reality, cogent and knit,
With all laws that her hand hath writ!
O listen, ye preachers, in your gilded walls,
Ye surpliced choirs in your fretted stalls,
I sing not for fraud, open, brazen, and bold,
For the merciless fight for rank and gold;
I heed
No manacled creed,
I despise and reject
All forms of worship decked
For showy effect;
I plead
For Nature’s creed,
The simplest of all,
Which shames the theatrical;
The worship that fell from man’s tongue,
In ages past when the hills were young;
Ere man
In his wisdom began
To measure prayer spick and span,
Marking the line of good and ill
In formal words and phrases chill,
Wearily wrought
With gloomy thought.
O learn the prayers that rise in me,
Joyous and free!
Like the leaves on this green tree:
Hear my symphonies,
Chants and litanies!
Hear me preach,
And teach,
That of all religions under the sun,
The worship of beauty is the purest one.
In dreamy solitudes;
The charm of eve on old hilltops,
When slowly down the broad sun drops
Red through the boughs of the beechen copse,
And over the quiet moorside
The grey-sailed clouds at anchor ride,
Like fairy barques from mystic seas,
Laden with drowsy ease;
In the dewy hush,
Like a fountain’s gush,
My song is heard; but who can guess
The depth of its tenderness!
For the holy breath
That presages death,
Attunes my theme
To a low requiem;
And I pray
For the dying day,
Until the air
Is heavy with prayer.
The stars come out o’er the heavens wide,
And the farms grow dark on the upland side,
While the Angel of Sleep
Spreads her wings over valley and steep,
Laying the life of pasture and dell
Under her spell!
The dew clings
To my brown wings,
The West pales,
And my song fails,
And lower,
And slower,
And then,