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THE WHIPPOORWILL AND I

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

In the hushed hours of night, when the air quite still,
I hear the strange cry of the lone whippoorwill,
Who Chants, without ceasing, that wonderful trill,
Of which the sole burden is still, “Whip-poor-Will.”

And why should I whip him? Strange visitant,
Has he been playing truant this long summer day?
I listened a moment; more clear and more shrill
Rang the voice of the bird, as he cried, “Whip-poor-Will.”

But what has poor Will done? I ask you once more;
I’ll whip him, don’t fear, if you’ll tell me what for.
I paused for an answer; o’er valley and hill
Rang the voice of the bird, as he cried, “Whip-poor-Will.”

Has he come to your dwelling, by night or by day,
And snatched the young birds from their warm nest away?
I paused for an answer; o’er valley and hill
Rang the voice of the bird, as he cried, “Whip-poor-Will.”

Well, well, I can hear you, don’t have any fears,
I can hear what is constantly dinned in my ears.
The obstinate bird, with his wonderful trill,
Still made but one answer, and that, “Whip-poor-Will.”

But what HAS poor Will done? I prithee explain;
I’m out of all patience, don’t mock me again.
The obstinate bird, with his wonderful trill,
Still made the same answer, and that, “Whip-poor-Will.”

Well, have your own way, then; but if you won’t tell,
I’ll shut down the window, and bid you farewell;
But of one thing be sure, I won’t whip him until
You give me some reason for whipping poor Will.

I listened a moment, as if for reply,
But nothing was heard but the bird’s mocking cry.
I caught the faint echo from valley and hill;   
It breathed the same burden, that strange “Whip-poor-Will.”

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