The cuckoo, like a hawk in flight, With narrow pointed wings Whews o'er our heads—soon out of sight And as she flies she sings: And darting down the hedgerow side She scares the little bird Who leaves the nest it cannot hide While plaintive notes are heard.
I've watched it on an old oak tree Sing half an hour away Until its quick eye noticed me And then it whewed away. Its mouth when open shone as red As hips upon the brier, Like stock doves seemed its winged head But striving to get higher
It heard me rustle and above leaves Soon did its flight pursue, Still waking summer's melodies And singing as it flew. So quick it flies from wood to wood 'Tis miles off 'ere you think it gone; I've thought when I have listening stood Full twenty sang—when only one.
When summer from the forest starts Its melody with silence lies, And, like a bird from foreign parts, It cannot sing for all it tries. 'Cuck cuck' it cries and mocking boys Crie 'Cuck' and then it stutters more Till quick forgot its own sweet voice It seems to know itself no more.