The red-throat robin, it is said,
Once sat upon the Savior’s head,
In that dread hour whose fount of tears
Then burst to flow for myriad years.
The bird, in agony forlorn,
Tore from the crown a cruel thorn,
Seeking to lighten his distress
And make the pain a little less;
And therefore all the robin’s brood
Are marked with the Redeemer’s blood.
Still at the present day, we’re told,
He loves mankind, and often, bold,
When any danger hovers near,
Cries out, aloud: “Beware! beware!”
The houses where he builds his nest
Are free from lightning and pest;
But woe to those who do him ill:
Sad luck attends them who would kill,
Near their home or e’en abroad,
The bird which bears the mark of God.
Adapted from the German original by Charles Godfrey Leland
(People in some regions of Germany believed the robin’s warning call sounded like their word for “beware.”)