Lord, according to thy words,
I have considered thy birds;
And I find their life good,
And better the better understood:
Sowing neither corn nor wheat
They have all that they can eat;
Reaping no more than they sow
They have more than they could stow;
Having neither barn nor store,
Hungry again, they eat more.
Considering, I see too that they
Have a busy life, and plenty of play;
In the earth they dig their bills deep
And work well though they do not heap;
Then to play in the air they are not loath,
And their nests between are better than both.
But this is when there blow no storms,
When berries are plenty in winter, and worms,
When feathers are rife, with oil enough–
To keep the cold out and send the rain off;
If there come, indeed, a long hard frost
Then it looks as thy birds were lost.
But I consider further, and find
A hungry bird has a free mind;
He is hungry to-day, not to-morrow,
Steals no comfort, no grief doth borrow;
This moment is his, thy will hath said it,
The next is nothing till thou hast made it.
Thy bird has pain, but has no fear
Which is the worst of any gear;
When cold and hunger and harm betide him,
He does not take them and stuff inside him;
Content with the day’s ill he has got,
He waits just, nor haggles with his lot:
Neither jumbles God’s will
With driblets from his own still.
But next I see, in my endeavour,
Thy birds here do not live for ever;
That cold or hunger, sickness or age
Finishes their earthly stage;
The rooks drop in cold nights,
Leaving all their wrongs and rights;
Birds lie here and birds lie there
With their feathers all astare;
And in thy own sermon, thou
That the sparrow falls dost allow.
It shall not cause me any alarm,
For neither so comes the bird to harm
Seeing our father, thou hast said,
Is by the sparrow’s dying bed;
Therefore it is a blessed place,
And the sparrow in high grace.
It cometh therefore to this, Lord:
I have considered thy word,
And henceforth will be thy bird.