Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Mendicants

A mendicant is defined as a beggar or one who depends on the charity of others - in this case, the birds! Anyone who has fed our feathered friends in autumn and winter will recognise the scene immediately.

The Mendicants

When inning stooks have cleared the field
And orchards scanty harvest yield,
          From tree or trellised wall
My door becomes a convent gate
Where daily mendicants await -
          The dole matutinal.

A dozen starlings from the roof,
A wary rook that holds aloof
          Until the coast is clear;
And woodland warblers winterdumb,
That venture on the outmost crumb.
          With many a start of fear.

And no distinction do we make
But thief and minstrel may partake.
          As freely as they dare;
Nor have we asked if it is wise
With thoughtless hand to pauperize
          These vagrants of the air.

How cheaply happiness is spread!
A little farthing’s worth of bread
          Suffices all the throng;
And now and then in recompense,
A sated starling from the fence,
          Essays his feeble song.

Meaning of unusual words:
Inning stooks=bundled and tied harvest stalks
pauperize=make beggars of
dole matutinal=daily morning hand-out

Return to the Index of Walter Wingate Poems or the General Index of Scottish Poetry

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