I COME at caterpillar time
While Spring lags in the air,
And little caterpillars climb
To strip the wattles bare.
Then I, in my striped guernsey clad,
High in the wattle-tree,
Gorge deeply, and go singing mad,
"Pee! Ree!" I call. "Pee! Ree!"
I wear an air of innocence;
And, while the green grubs last,
My singing vigour is immense,
My appetite is vast.
But who would ever think that I,
Garbed in my gaudy vest,
Was all the time alert to spy
Some unattended nest.
And, when the nesting birds appear,
I draw the hunt on me,
And, with well-simulated fear,
To lure them on, I act my best,
And loud for mercy beg,
The while my wife drops in their nest
Her surreptitious egg.
We come at caterpillar time
Calling. "Pee! Ree!"--"Pee! Ree!"
And, while the grubs are fat and prime,
Then off, when scanty grows the fare,
To richer fields afar,
Leaving to others all our care
Like vagabonds we are.
The Bronze Cuckoo
by C J Dennis (1876-1938)
The Singing Garden (1935) p.47.