Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink..."

Do you remember that line from the poem "Robert of Lincoln," by William Cullen Bryant? I learned it when I was in the fourth grade, and it always stuck with me. When I saw these shots of the Bobolinks from the "rejected June" photos, that line kept running through my head...

"...Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
Spink, spank, spink..."

A male Bobolink in the High Meadow at Voice of America (VOA) Park

Since I was going back to my childhood with this post, I pulled out my first field guide—"Teach-Me about Birds, Flash Cards in full color" to see how they described the Bobolink's unique and beautiful song. Their description is spot on: "A bubbling series of musical notes given in flight or from a perch." It's simple and perfect...."a bubbling series of musical notes..."

A female Bobolink is pretty. Just like a cardinal, she has that "understated elegance."

I like this photo because it clearly shows his pointy tail feathers! can see those pointy tail feathers just a bit here, but this shot really emphasizes his strong feet and legs. For his size, they really are beefy!

"When you can pipe that merry old strain,
Robert of Lincoln, come back again."

I wanted to find the poem, so I looked it up and found a free eBook that has it. Click here for the online version of the book "Poems That Every Child Should Know—A Selection of the Best Poems of all Time for Young People," edited by Mary E. Burt (1906)

Robert of Lincoln
by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)

Merrily swinging on brier and weed,
Near to the nest of his little dame,
Over the mountain-side or mead,
Robert of Lincoln is telling his name:
Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Snug and safe is that nest of ours,
Hidden among the summer flowers,
Chee, chee, chee.

Robert of Lincoln is gayly drest,
Wearing a bright black wedding-coat;
White are his shoulders and white his crest
Hear him call in his merry note:
Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Look, what a nice coat is mine.
Sure there was never a bird so fine.
Chee, chee, chee.

Robert of Lincoln's Quaker wife,
Pretty and quiet, with plain brown wings,
Passing at home a patient life,
Broods in the grass while her husband sings,
Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Brood, kind creature; you need not fear
Thieves and robbers while I am here.
Chee, chee, chee.

Modest and shy as a nun is she;
One weak chirp is her only note.
Braggart and prince of braggarts is he,
Pouring boasts from his little throat:
Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Never was I afraid of man;
Catch me, cowardly knaves, if you can!
Chee, chee, chee.

Six white eggs on a bed of hay,
Flecked with purple, a pretty sight!
There as the mother sits all day,
Robert is singing with all his might:
Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Nice good wife, that never goes out,
Keeping house while I frolic about.
Chee, chee, chee.

Soon as the little ones chip the shell,
Six wide mouths are open for food;
Robert of Lincoln bestirs him well,
Gathering seeds for the hungry brood.
Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
This new life is likely to be
Hard for a gay young fellow like me.
Chee, chee, chee.

Robert of Lincoln at length is made
Sober with work, and silent with care;
Off is his holiday garment laid,
Half forgotten that merry air:
Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
Nobody knows but my mate and I
Where our nest and out nestlings lie.
Chee, chee, chee.

Summer wanes; the children are grown;
Fun and frolic no more he knows;
Robert of Lincoln's a humdrum crone;
Off he flies, and we sing as he goes:
Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
When you can pipe that merry old strain,
Robert of Lincoln, come back again.
Chee, chee, chee.


eileeninmd said...

Lovely post and the photos are awesome. The Bobolink is another bird I would love to see. Thanks for sharing yours for now.

DeanO said...

I have never heard this poem but such wonderful pictures. I love the Bob-o-link flying. It is a beefy bird

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Hi Kelly, Great pictures of the Bobolink.. Gorgeous bird!

Love the poem also....

Merry Christmas.

Montanagirl said...

Love this post. I've seen Bob-o-Links only once. I was thrilled. The poem is lovely.

Dan Huber said...

Lovely post Kelly, love the photos and the poem.

TexWisGirl said...

have never read the poem - it is great. i haven't seen or heard these birds since i was a kid in Wisconsin, roaming the fields and creeks. really unique birds. thanks for this.

Unknown said...

Bobolinks are awesome birds! I've only seen them a couple of times out west.

holdingmoments said...

What a lovely post Kelly, and a lovely poem to go with it.

Gillian Olson said...

Great series of picture, I especially like the bird in flight. Never heard this poem before either. Thanks.

Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

And these photos were rejected by you? I think that most of us would be only too happy to display them proudly! Great display, Kelly. And thanks for including the poem--nice!

Tammie Lee said...

You learned this poem, as in memorized it? It is quite long, I am impressed. Your photos are wonderful and each time you point out why you like a photo, i get to see more. Being as I am not a 'birder' I tend to take in more the spirit of the image than the details. Thank you!

Hilke Breder said...

Kelly, what's your criterium for rejecting photos? These would get first rating in my world! I love the composition with the seed heads; and the birds are beautiful even with some back light.

Roy said...

When I first read the title of the post, I thought you had been on the wine Kelly.{:)
What an unusual bird, it looks about three different birds rolled into one.

Elaine said...

Kelly, you crack me up with your "rejected June" photos. I would have been happy to have taken any of these shots, no matter when it was. Now that it's dreary outside I'm glad you went back into your files and pulled these out. They are beautiful!

Mary said...

I've never seen a bob-o-link or heard that poem. Thanks for sharing both!

Kelly said...

...Thank you, everyone! No...I didn't memorize this poem in the fourth grade. Our teacher read it to us and we studied it. The rhyme "Bob-o-link, Bob-o'-link, spink, spank, spink" just stuck in my head, and I always remembered it. I think I was disappointed in these photos because I had just returned from Pinckney Island where the birds practically come up and pose for you... I MISS those Bobolink sounds. Their song is one of those special summer songs...

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

I loved this post I have always wanted to see a Bobolink they have long been on my cool bird list. I suspect it is the name as well as the patches. And of course I enjoyed the poem you included.

All the best.