Tabb’s Poetry XX

The Pine-Tree

With whispers of futurity
   And echoes of the past,
Twin birds a shelter find in thee
   Against the wintry blast—
The fledgling Hope, that preens her wing,
   Too timorous to fly,
And Memory, that comes to sing
   Her coronach, and die. 


O wind and waters, ye alone
Have chanted the primeval tone
   Since Nature first began.
All other voices change, but ye
Abide, the soul of harmony
   Interpreting the man.

He listens, and his heart is fain
To fashion an immortal strain;
   Yet his sublimest lay
Is but the music of a tongue
Attuned to silence, and among
   The echoes dies away. 


Dance to the beat of the rain, little Fern,
   And spread out your palms again,
   And say, “Though the sun
   Hath my vesture spun,
He had laboured, alas, in vain,
   But for the shade
   That the Cloud hath made,
And the gift of the Dew and the Rain.”
   Then laugh and upturn
   All your fronds, little Fern,
And rejoice in the beat of the rain!
The Tree

Planted by the Master’s hand
Steadfast in thy place to stand,
While the ever-changing year
Clothes, or strips thy branches bare;
Lending not a leaf to hold
Warmth against the winter’s cold;
Lightening not a limb the less
For the summer’s sultriness;
Nay, thy burden heavier made,
That within thy bending shade
Thankless multitudes, oppressed,
There may lay them down and rest.
Soul, upon thy Calvary
Wait; the Christ will come to thee. 

The Rain and the Dew

“Thou hast fallen,” said the Dewdrop
   To a sister drop of rain,
“But wilt thou, wedded with the dust,
   In banishment remain?”

“Nay, Dewdrop, but anon with thee—
   The lowlier born than I—
Uplifted shall I seek again
   My native home, the sky.”

John B. Tabb

For a recitation, click the play button:

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“The Pine-Tree”: Lyrics, p. 20; Poetry, p. 27. November 1892. A coronach is a dirge or lament; a bird preens when it straightens and cleans its feathers with its bill.

“Choristers”: Father Tabb, p. 185; Poetry, p. 53. September 1903. Choristers are members of a choir; primeval means of the earliest times; fain means eager; a lay is a song.

“Fern-Song”: Poems, p. 72; Poetry, p. 11. 1894.

“The Tree”: Lyrics, p. 16; Poetry, p. 26. September 1895. Calvary is the hill near Jerusalem on which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified; the word comes from Calvarius, Latin for the Hebrew Golgotha; see Matthew 27:33.

“The Rain and the Dew”: Lyrics, p. 50; Poetry, p. 58. February 1892. Anon means soon.

A convert to the Catholic faith, Rev. John Banister Tabb (1845-1909) was a priest of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, and Professor of English at St. Charles’ College, Ellicott City, Maryland. Poems selected, arranged, and annotated by E.L. Core.
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