Tabb’s Poetry XXIII

A Query

Was it the Dawn that waked the bird
   With yonder spark?
Or had the sleeping darkness stirred
   Before the Lark?

For either rival to declare
   The Winds are loth;
And blossoms, nodding everywhere,
   Affirm for both. 

A Duet

A little yellow Bird above,
A little yellow Flower below;
The little Bird can sing the love
That Bird and Blossom know;
The Blossom has no song nor wing,
But breathes the love he cannot sing. 


I see Thee in the distant blue;
But in the Violet’s dell of dew,
Behold, I breathe and touch Thee too. 

The Bluebird

When God had made a host of them,
One little flower still lacked a stem
   To hold its blossom blue;
So into it He breathed a song,
And suddenly, with petals strong
   As wings, away it flew.


One dream the bird and blossom dreamed
   Of Love, the whole night long;
Yet twain its revelation seemed,
   In fragrance and in song.

John B. Tabb

For a recitation, click the play button:

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“A Query: Later Lyrics, p. 80; Poetry, p. 73. April 1893. A lark is any of a number of songbirds (family Alaudidae); only one, the Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris), lives in North America.

“A Duet”: Child Verse, p. 5; Poetry, p. 45. 1899.

“God”: Lyrics, p. 127; Poetry, p. 218. March 1895.

“The Bluebird”: Child Verse, p. 7; Poetry, p. 46. 1899. Bluebirds are songbirds belonging to the Thrush family (Turdidae); one species, the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), lives year-round in Virginia, where Father Tabb resided.

“Discrepancy”: Poems, p. 135; Poetry, p. 359. April 1893. Twain means double.

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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