Mary Howitt

The Sparrow's Nest

Nay, only look what I have found!

A sparrow's nest upon the ground;

A sparrow's nest as you may see,

Blown out of yonder old elm-tree.

And what a medley thing it is!

I never saw a nest like this,

So neatly wove with decent care,

Of silvery moss and shining hair.

But put together, odds and ends,

Picked up from enemies and friends;

See, bits of thread and bits of rag,

Just like a little rubbish bag!

See, hair of dog and fur of cat,

And rav'lings of a worsted mat,

And shreds of silk, and many a feather

Compacted cunningly together.

Well, here has hoarding been and living

And a little good contriving,

Before a home of peace and ease

Was fashioned out of things like these!

Think, had these odds and ends been brought

To some wise man renowned for thought,

Some man, of men the very gem,

Pray, what could he have done with them?

If we had said: "Here, sir, we bring

You many a worthless little thing,

Just bits and scraps, so very small

That they have scarcely size at all;

And out of these you must contrive

A dwelling large enough for five;

Neat, warm, and snug; with comfort stored;

Where five small things may lodge and board."

How would the man of learning vast

Have been astonished and aghast,

And vow that such a thing had been

Ne'er heard of, thought of, much less seen!

Ah! man of learning, you are wrong;

Instinct is, more than wisdom, strong;

And he who made the sparrow, taught

This skill beyond your reach of thought.

And here in this uncostly nest,

These little creatures have been blest;

Nor have kings known in palaces

Half their contentedness in this—

Poor simple dwelling as it is!