A CORNISH FOLK SONG by R S Hawker

Tonight as I hear the bells ringing in the church down the road (its bell practise night! nothing eerie…) and before the owl starts hooting in the tree outside our window I was reminded of this poem by the Reverend Robert Stephen Hawker (1803 -1875) titled A Cornish Folk Song

Now, of all the birds that keep the tree,
Which is the wittiest fowl?
Oh, the Cuckoo—the Cuckoo’s the one!—for he
Is wiser than the owl!

He dresses his wife in her Sunday’s best,
And they never have rent to pay;
For she folds her feathers in a neighbours’s nest,
And thither she goes to lay!

He winked with his eye, and he buttoned his purse,
When the breeding time began;
For he’d put his children out to nurse
In the house of another man!

Then his child, though born in a stranger’s bed,
Is his own true father’s son;
For he gobbles the lawful childrens’s bread,
And he starves them one by one!

So, of all the birds that keep the tree,
This is the wittiest fowl!
Oh, the Cuckoo—the Cuckoo’s the one!—for he
Is wiser than the owl!

Vicar of Morwenstow - R S Hawker

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