Distant Voices

Distant Voices

by Dora Sigerson Shorter, 1897

Featured in The Fairy Changeling and Other poems

Distant Voices

Distant Voices



I left my home for travelling;

Because I heard the strange birds sing

In foreign skies, and felt their wing


Brush past my soul impatiently;

I saw the bloom on flower and tree

That only grows beyond the sea.


Methought the distant voices spake

More wisdom than near tongues can make;

I followed—lest my heart should break.


And what is past is past and done.

I dreamt, and here the dream begun:

I saw a salmon in the sun


Leap from the river to the shore—

Ah! strange mishap, so wounded sore,

To his sweet stream to turn no more.


A bird from ’neath his mother’s breast,

Spread his weak wings in vain request;

Never again to reach his nest.


I saw a blossom bloom too soon

Upon a summer’s afternoon;

’Twill breathe no more beneath the moon.


I woke, warmed ’neath a foreign sky

Where locust blossoms bud and die,

Strange birds called to me flashing by.


And dusky faces passed and woke

The echoes with the words they spoke—

—The same old tales as other folk.


A truce to roaming!  Never more

I’ll leave the home I loved of yore.

But strangers meet me at the door.


I left my home still travelling,

For yet I hear the strange birds sing,

And foreign flowers rare perfumes bring.


I hear a distant voice, more wise

Than others are ’neath foreign skies.

I’ll find—perhaps in paradise.


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Distant Voices



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