And men whose gentler spirits still prevail.
Dead is the Sparrow of my girl, the joy,
Sparrow, my sweeting's most delicious toy,
Whom loved she dearer than her very eyes;
For he was honeyed-pet and anywise
Knew her, as even she her mother knew;
Ne'er from her bosom's harbourage he flew
But 'round her hopping here, there, everywhere,
Piped he to none but her his lady fair.
Now must he wander o'er the darkling way
Thither, whence life-return the Fates denay.
But ah! beshrew you, evil Shadows low'ring
In Orcus ever loveliest things devouring:
Who bore so pretty a Sparrow fro' her ta'en.
(Oh hapless birdie and Oh deed of bane!)
Now by your wanton work my girl appears
With turgid eyelids tinted rose by tears.
And let me tend you this advice, my dear:
Take any lover that you will, or may,
Except a poet. All of them are queer.
It's just the same – a quarrel or a kiss
Is but a tune to play upon his pipe.
He's always hymning that or wailing this;
Myself, I much prefer the business type.
That thing he wrote, the time the sparrow died –
(Oh, most unpleasant – gloomy, tedious words!)
I called it sweet, and made believe I cried;
The stupid fool! I've always hated birds...
Lesbia and her Sparrow by Sir Edward John Poynter
Lesbia weeping over her sparrow by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1866