By Fr Aedan McGrath (1906-2000)
Composed during his captivity in China between 1950 and 1953.
I have one little friend within this jail,
Who comes each day to visit without fail;
And which he loves — just me, or what I give
I should not like to be too positive.
He flies in through the outer window bare,
And nears my cell with eyes like twinkling stars,
He whispers "Chirrup, Chirrup" from his heart
And promptly do I 'Cheer up' for my part.
His appetite for rice that has been dried,
And which must swell on reaching his inside,
Did quite alarm me when I saw it first,
In dreading that my little friend might burst.
And when there is no rice, not e'en a bit,
I therefore do not move from where I sit.
He tries his best to make his presence felt
With antics that would cause your heart to melt.
He visits other friends along the line,
In case you think the privilege was mine.
But still I think he comes to me the most.
— Without intending to deceive or boast.
0ne day, I know not what gave him a fright
For I could not see anything in sight;
But rushing in, his body all aquake
He perched beside me for protection sake.
I often wonder what he thinks of me,
He must know I'm encaged and not too free.
For he comes very close beside my cell
And yet he feels that everything is well.
I know what shall always think of him
So free, so cheery and so full of vim:
Recalling Jesus and His words about
The birds and Man's solitude and doubt.
‘They do not sow and neither do they reap,
Nor gather into barns a stock to keep;'
And yet they fare so well just to and fro
Without a single care, God loves them so.
Ah ye of little faith: Christ's words were due,
For truly trusting souls are still so few.
Ah here's the bird again, how he trusts me:
‘Dear God, please teach me how to trust in Thee.'