Do you enjoy the sound of meadowlarks singing? Gene Pinkney sure does.
Gene, of Wahpeton, N.D., and a retired English teacher at the North Dakota State School of Science there, writes that back in 2016, this column carried an item about larks. He says that prompted him to write a poem about his yearly ritual of listening for the first larks.
Here it is:
Gonna go out meadow larkin’
Gonna do a heap o’ harkin’
For my pretty bird that sings so bright and clear.
Gonna scan the fields with glasses
Short fence posts and pasture grasses
For that yellow vest and black tie that he wears.
Gonna cock my ears and listen
Where the misty meadows glisten
With old snow that’s just been hangin’ on too long.
Gonna bend my neck and strain
For that first long-lost refrain
Seven notes that fill my longing soul with song.
Heading south and east to capture
My bird’s ‘first fine careless rapture’,
Like the wise thrush in that Robert Browning poem.
Hope to hear him sing his soul out
Like some tapster from the blue spouts
Drunk with meed to sing that spring is coming soon.
Yes, I’m going meadow larkin’ meadow larkin’ meadow larkin’
Though there’s likely not a lark for fifty miles,
But I’m goin’ anyway in the hope this cold March day
Might afford a faithful pilgrim one sweet smile.
Meadow larkin’ meadow larkin’; let’s be gone, let’s be gone
On the quest my soul delights in these last days.
Seen too many songless searches, empty fields and birdless perches.
Really wanna hear my bird of heaven these last days.
“Since I was a kid in the ‘40s,” Gene writes, “my dad and I made it a yearly ritual to celebrate my March 21 birthday by going out to our cow pasture to listen for the song of the first lark. My dad, a great whistler, could answer the songs almost perfectly.
“The larks were there right on schedule almost every year!”
“Since then, things have changed much in Wahpeton. No pastures, no fences and very few larks. But I make the trip out yearly just for a lark.”
One more thing from Gene: he wonders if anyone remembers “the great two-man combo that packed the Skol Room many a summer night back in (I think) 1963 or 1964.
“They were called the Barons, and I think they were as good as the Righteous Brothers. They absolutely made unforgettable songs like ‘Marie’ and ‘Bring It On Home to Me’ as well as many others.
“Anybody remember them?”
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