A Morning Vision [Poem]


I lay when dawn was breaking.
And dreamed of days that were;
The lapless tide was waking,
And birds began to stir,
E'en as they might in England
In a green midsummer.

All in a leafy thicket
Of jasmin, cool and lush.
They were as gay a picket
As ever sang in bush
The Chow-chow, he sang loudest.
Sweet as an English thrush.

Well might his song be thrush-like,
A thrush, a thrush is he;
His varied notes, they gush like
The song of brook or sea;
His cousin over the water
Chants not more cheerily.

To him lest bard should tender
Some lesser meed of fame.
No touch of tropic splendour
Belies his sober claim —
A plain grey English minstrel
Under an Indian name.

Alike is your true singer
In all the climes that be;
He loves the bright day-bringer.
He loves the pleasant lea;
Not, not the swamp, the jungle,
Nor yet the lonesome sea.

There richer hues may glimmer,
As gruesome beasts go by —
The snake with coral shimmer,
The hawk with emerald eye;
The gull shrill to the tempest.
The parrot shriek on high.

The songster scans the clearing,
He is a merry thief ;
With songs and ways endearing.
He steals away your grief;
And well he knows the "Julie,"
The corn, the cabbage leaf.

The God-bird — have you guessed it !
Your old-world "Jenny Wren!"
Here, too, a favoured guest, it
Frequents the haunts of men.
One high within my chamber
Made chirp enough for ten.

In gamut still ascending,
Without, the Jacamar,
Trilled on and on, unending;
I knew his note from far:
Methinks the quaintest choir-bird
Of all the birds that are.

A dozen little Grass-birds
Along my lattice came.
All with their proper pass-words.
Each with his family name;
Their chief, the Pico-Plata,
Of ancient Spanish fame.

In black and white and yellow,
A rich Canary hue,
With cheery notes, and mellow.
The Honey-Creeper flew.
And perched on my old pipe-rack,
To join the merry crew.

These, ay, and many, many
A happy bird beside.
Sang joyously; nor any
Gave heed to how I sighed,
A-listening to their lilting.
That might not be denied.

And still I lay a- dreaming,
And mourning on my bed
Till all the east was beaming
And half the west was red;
A Colibri came flashing.
And hovered o'er my head.

Vermilion tiny ringlets
Looped in a golden crest;
Two ruby flames for winglets.
And tiny opal breast,
So busily it bickered,
Not might a moment rest.

Ah, winged gem, no sadness
Might ever dwell with you!
An ecstasy, a madness.
Dull mortals never knew,
Roared like a fairy furnace
Your rushing pinions through.

Rose-flashing, fiery-darting.
Passion- or angel-bid,
It touched my eyes; and, smarting
In orb and drowsy lid,
I saw a sudden glory
From common vision hid.

Blue was the sky with millions
Of souls in azure sheen;
Star spoke to star, and trillions
Of voices sang between;
A never-ending present
Was as the past had been . . . .

A-top of an old stable,
My window near below,
Loud, loud, as he was able,
A cock began to crow;
My morning vision ended.
And left me to my woe.

pp. 40-45


Supposed to have been "beholden" at Pointe Baleine. This
is another production belonging to the period of Scribbler's
mourning for his comrade-in-arms. Cf. Legend VIII. Here,
it is noticeable, his grief is more resigned.

"L'Enfant y est pour quelque chose." (the Child has some-
thing to do with it), the Count declared.

Certainly the description of local song-birds, constituting
the main interest of the poem, is playful, not to say humorous,
in tone. It is exceptionally accurate too. Why? For a very
simple reason; the Chile! began a collection of wild birds,
and Scribbler had to study what he was writing about — a thing
he very seldom troubled to do.

"Colibri," i.e., humming-bird. The description given cor-
responds to Trochilus Moschitus, the ruby-hued variety. By
the bye, the theory about tropical song-birds being plain-
coloured and frequenting cultivated parts, while gaudy ones
are songless or utter only raucous cries and belong to the
jungle, etc., originated with the Magnate. He, now, was an
accurate observer. Remarkably good-natured too as a rule.
When Scribbler stole the idea and put it in his verses, far from
being angry the old man seemed quite bucked. Scribbler
was a favourite with him. He knew his people in Canada,
who, it came out later, were in a more important position
than anyone would have imagined who only knew Scribbler.
(See Legend XXVII).

The Magnate never liked me. He pretended to fall asleep
when I explained how birds were classified : raptores, incessores,
rasores, etc.; and once, on the voyage, when he found me sitting
on deck with the Child, he was positively rude, I thought.

p. 45

"Chow-chow,"(alias "day-clean" (because he heralds the
dawn) or "Mocking Thrush, really a kind of thrush. A
remarkable variety of notes^ and would-be-dignified way of
strutting about, with funny little half-flights. Chow-chow ts a
phonetic rendering of his call to his mate.

"Godbird." Everybody knows the old rhyme: "Robin
Redbreast and Jenny wren are God's cock and hen." It is
curious to find something analogous in the West Indies. Notes
rather loud for "chamber music," which, however, he specially

"Jacamar" This is more of an operatic fellow, going up
and up chromatically, and getting very excited in the process.
Long tail tipped with white.

"Grass-birds." So called because they feed on grass seeds;
a numerous family, most of them with pretty little notes.

"Pico-Plata" ("Silver-beak,") is really a high-class per-
former. They are pugnacious little birds, despite their French
patois nickname: "Cici Zebe." Cici means little fellow or
puny thing; Zebe stands for des herbes. {See "Qiseaux de
I'Ile de la Trinidad," par A. Leotaud. Port d'Espagne, 1866,
page 326.)

"Honeycreeper" or Sucrier; very common, notes cheery,
though not (to my ear) particularly sweet. Rather smaller,
but same colour, as the wild canary.

SOURCE: Legends of the Bocas, Trinidad. By A.D. Russell, London: Cecil Palmer, 1922. pp. 42-46

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!