Robins are lovely, don’t you think? They are familiar to many people simply because they are happy living in close proximity to human beings. For anyone who has recently dug their flower beds over, no doubt you spotted a robin close by, monitoring proceedings. It is perhaps because they are happy living so closely to man that they crop up so frequently in poetry and literature. Wordsworth cleary rubbed shoulders with a robin:
“Art though the bird whom man loves best
The pious bird with the scarlet breast.”
One story that has become familiar is the marriage between the robin and the wren; they are, “God Almighty’s cock and hen”.
The most famous of all robin rhymes is the peculiar, “An Elegy on the death and burial of Cock Robin.” It was first published in 1744, and is said to be a political commentary on the downfall of Robert Walpole’s Govenment in 1742. Though maybe the story is older, for it is said to be depicted in a fifteenth centry stainglass window in a rectory in buckinghamshire…
The poem famously starts:
“Who killed Cock Robin?
I said the sparrow,
With my bow and arrow,
I killed Cock Robin.”
It goes on, with all the birds and beasts offering their servies for the burial of Cock Robin, and ends:
“All the birds of the air
Fell a sighing and a sobbing,
When They heard the bell toll
For poor Cock Robin”
Poor Cock Robin!
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