Marion Franklin Ham (1867-1956) worked as a journalist and bank clerk in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before becoming an ordained Unitarian minister in 1898. Following his ordination, he traveled across the country pastoring various churches, penning books of hymns and poems along the way.
He was almost certainly an upland bird hunter, as the following lines lead one to presume. His poem “Bob White” was included in one of his earliest books, The Golden Shuttle. Enjoy!
Shrill and clear from coppice near,
A song within the woodland ringing,
A treble note from silver throat,
The siren of the fields is singing—
And from the height the answer sweet
Floats faintly o’er the rippling wheat—
The elder-flowers in snowy showers
Upon the velvet turf are falling,
And where they lie the soft winds sigh,
The while the fluted voice is calling—
And far across the yellow grain
The wafted echo swells again—
The purple mist by sunbeams kissed
Drifts upward toward the morning’s splendor;
And through the haze of shaded ways
The plaintive reed pipes low and tender—
While fainter, sweeter, softer grown
The answer on the breeze is blown—
The shadows sleep in hollows deep;
The dewy pawpaw leaves are thrilling;
The silence broods o’er solitudes
Unbroken, save one pure note trilling—
So pure, so clear, so sweetly rare,
The answer steals upon the air—
O song of youth! of love and truth!
Of mellow days forever dying!
Still through the years my sad heart hears
Your tender cadence sighing, sighing—
And far across life’s troubled ways
The echo comes from boyhood days—