03 Jan Distant Voices
by Dora Sigerson Shorter, 1897
Featured in The Fairy Changeling and Other poems
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.