MIGRATION: LESSONS FROM CONTRASTS
Travis E. Donald
Out of the forest there rose,
As the sun came up in the East
Bevys and Bevys of birds
That were not exhausted in the least.
And up they flew and upward still
‘Till scarcely they were in sight,
And on they flew, onward still,
Ten thousand in a flight.
They flew and flew o’er hill and valley,
Fleeing from snow and winter rain,
No time had they to dally
‘Till they were safe again.
They flew and flew past fields so brown,
Headed for fields and valleys green,
Where snows are never on the ground.
Such pleasant sights were never seen.
Onward they flew until at last
Their wings began to lower
For here they fear no winter blast.
Their speed of flight grew slower.
Down in the dell there a’lit
As the sun sank low in the West
Those Bevys and Bevys and Bevys of birds
That thought the South was best.
There’s something we’ve left undone,
And the day is now far spent.
Though we’ve worked and toiled in the sun,
Our task is incomplete.
- “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they” (Matt. 6:26 KJV)?
- “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. 12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. 13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. 14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him” (Ecc. 3:11-14 KJV).
The contrasts in this poem offer lessons in both humility and patience. Small though they are, multitudes of birds press with undeterred vigor from dangerous, cold, empty fields toward a far but bountiful haven. With what divine power are they able to fly so high and so easily? Together, they will not slack until their destination is in sight. But for the girl, the realization dawns that neither the day nor she were sufficient. As she and her companions’ labor in the field at a task they are ultimately unable to complete in time, perhaps she hopes to one day find rest, beauty, and the satisfaction of a mission accomplished. Until then, her work must be continued another day.
There was a problem with choosing a title, since my mother (in her childhood) did not provide one. Originally we chose “MIGRATION: How Larks Filled Our Day,” but the more we read and pondered the meaning we came to see that it was truly “A LESSON FROM CONTRASTS.”