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Whip PoOR W i l l The Song Bird by Julene Hunter

Whip-Poor-Will I’ll tell you a story, but you must draw near, for this is a secret. Listen carefully dear

I heard this small tale while riding out West, where they tell taller tales than I can attest. There lived at the time a girl named Poor-Will. Her heart was pure gold. But her folks made one chill

They never gave hugs, or loves or small kisses. They only hollered and yelled. The stuff nobody misses. And who received all of these whips, pokes and hurt? Why Poor-Will was the only one on that small patch of dirt.

One day she decided it was best to be going. She packed up her gray dress, and she left without knowing Which way was which. Or what way was right. She just went out the door and got plain out of sight.

She followed that road until she came to the end, and it ended in Hotintot City my friend. Now Hotintot was NO place for a girl like Poor-Will. There were no schools, or libraries and none are there still.

Without one iota or cent to her name, Poor-Will was in trouble. Such a darn shame. But then she remembered her knack for a tune. She could sing for her supper by the light of the moon.

She looked for a clean patch. She found Hotintot Square. Then she started to warble a few songs from right there. A few folks heard the singing. Some twisted their ear, tipped back their hats to be sure they could hear.

Was it singing or song in Hotintot Square? They followed the notes to find Poor-Will singing there. “Jumpin’ Jehosephat” hollered a man from his horse “Golly Geewillickers” shouted another with force.

Poor-Will’s voice did carry so all there could hear. But no-one would help her. Her red eyes filled with a tear. But higher she sang, the notes falling out and back in. It was then that she noticed the changes begin.

“She sounds mighty pretty Like a songbird she sings.� As the crowd grew with feeling, she felt her back growing wings. Her song was continued with a chirp and small whistle. And the longer she sang, the more feathers and bristle.

When there before all she transformed from a child into a brown and grey bird now free in the wild “Why she looks like a bird, And she sings like one too� With a whip of the wind away Poor-Will flew.

She flew over the houses, the Square and the dirt to a far away forest where she couldn’t be hurt. And whenever she lands she’s heard to lament, Who? Poor Will, Who? Poor Will, to the wind her song’s sent.

Her eyes ruby-red can be seen in the night. Which is the only time Poor-Will will ever take flight. And the stories they tell ...might be true ...might be lies It’s said strange things happen when you hear her bright cries.

Leading souls heavenward, some people say. Or it portends women-to-widows or spinster by day. In the dry leaves and moonlight she now builds her nest. She sings of the hurt and is grateful for rest.

Her name – Whip-Poor-Will If you catch her sweet song Whip Poor Will is now happy and where she belongs. So listen at night ‘neath your window you hear, Who? Poor Will, Who? Poor Will With luck … she may be quite near.


to the whip-poor-will’s


(MP3 288 KB - recording © Lang Elliott)

http://www.massaudubon.org/whippoorwill/audio/whip.mp3 Whip-Poor-Will, the song bird © 2009 Julene Hunter