When out one night a-hunting in the midst of winter’s deep,
I thought I saw a nightingale soft crying in his sleep,
Why do you cry sweet nightingale? Why touch the silent nights,
With songs of dreadful sadness? What know you of foreign fights?
On that same night a-hunting in the midst of wintertime,
I thought I saw a crow fly by beside a shattered pine,
Dark wings, fierce eyes were gleaming, a sight to still the heart,
His smiling beak was carrying fresh flesh to tear apart.
And late that night a-hunting beneath the winter’s sky,
I thought I saw a hawk at war I heard his victims’ cry,
Their feathers floating round him, dead leaves in December’s dark,
There lying amongst the fallen was the morning’s peaceful lark.
Crouched down that night a-hunting with my rifle on my chest,
I thought I saw a gentle dove pale innocence and blest,
In splendid terror waiting she a shot rang through the night,
The image of a man in death with wide eyes burning bright.
Beyond the pale of winter’s snow beyond the summer’s green,
I thought I saw a magpie sitting ‘top a lonely tree,
An empty nest behind him – sharp thorns around his heart,
An emptiness in front of him, no will again to start.