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The Nightjar

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Written by Sir Henry Newbolt

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 We loved our nightjar, but she would not stay with us.
We had found her lying as dead, but soft and warm, Under the apple tree beside the old thatched wall.
Two days we kept her in a basket by the fire, Fed her, and thought she well might live – till suddenly I the very moment of most confiding hope She arised herself all tense, qivered and drooped and died.
Tears sprang into my eyes- why not? The heart of man Soon sets itself to love a living companion, The more so if by chance it asks some care of him.
And this one had the kind of loveliness that goes Far deeper than the optic nerve- full fathom five To the soul’socean cave, where Wonder and Reason Tell their alternate dreams of how the world was made.
So wonderful she was-her wings the wings of night But powdered here and therewith tiny golden clouds And wave-line markings like sea-ripples on the sand.
O how I wish I might never forget that bird- Never! But even now, like all beauty of earth, She is fading from me into the dusk of Time.


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