Stephen Vincent Benet

John James Audubon


Some men live for warlike deeds, 
Some for women's words. 
John James Audubon 
Lived to look at birds. 

Pretty birds and funny birds, 
All our native fowl 
From the little cedar waxwing 
To the Great Horned Owl. 

Let the wind blow hot or cold, 
Let it rain or snow, 
Everywhere the birds went 
Audubon would go. 

Scrambling through a wilderness, 
Floating down a stream, 
All around America 
In a feathered dream. 

Thirty years of traveling, 
Pockets often bare, 
(Lucy Bakewell Audubon 
Patched them up with care). 

Followed grebe and meadowlark, 
Saw them sing and splash. 
(Lucy Bakewell Audubon 
Somehow raised the cash). 

Drew them all the way they lived 
In their habitats. 
(Lucy Bakewell Audubon 
Sometimes wondered "Cats?") 

Colored them and printed them 
In a giant book, 
"Birds of North America" 
All the world said, "Look!" 

Gave him medals and degrees, 
Called him noble names, 
Lucy Bakewell Audubon 
Kissed her queer John James.