Soliloquy of a Wagtail

On the walls of York Castle


On the walls that guard my prison,

Swelling big with little pride,

Brisk and merry as the season,

I, a feathered Coxcomb, spied:

When the little, hopping elf

Gayly thus amused himself.



“Hear your sovereign’s proclamation,

All good subjects, young and old!

I’m the Lord of the Creation;

I – a Water Wagtail bold!

All around, and all you see,

All the world was made for ME!”



“Yonder sun, so proudly shining,

Rises – when I leave my nest;

And, behind the hills declining,

Sets – when I retire to rest:

Morn and evening, thus you see;

Day and night, were made for ME!”



“Vernal gales to love invite me;

Summer sheds, for me, her beams;

Autumn’s jovial scenes delight me;

Winter paves, with ice, my streams:

All the year is mine, you see;

Seasons change, like moons, for ME!”



“On the giant heads of mountains,

Or beneath the shady trees;

By the banks of warbling fountains,

I enjoy myself at ease:

Hills and vallies, thus you see,

Groves and rivers, made for ME!”



“Boundless are my vast dominions;

I can hop, or swim, or fly;

When I please, my towering pinions

Trace mine empire through the sky:

Air and elements, you see,

Heaven and earth, were made for ME!”



“Birds and insects, beast and fishes,

All their humble distance keep;

Man, subservient to my wishes,

Sows the harvest, which I reap:

Mighty man himself, you see,

All that breath, were made for ME!”



“Twas for my accommodation,

Nature rose when I was born;

Should I die ­– the whole creation

Back to nothing would return:

Sun, moon, stars, the world, you see,

Sprung – exist – will fall with ME!”



Here the pretty prattler ending,

Spread his wings to soar away;

But a cruel Hawk, descending,

Pounced him up – a helpless prey!

– Couldst thou not, poor Wagtail! See,

That the Hawk was made for THEE?


Castle of York, April 5,