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Some feather'd dam, purveying 'mong the boughs,
Darts from her perch, and to her plumeless brood
Bears off the prize:-sad emblem of man's lot!
He, giddy insect, from his native leaf,
(Where safe and happily he might have lurk'd,)
Elate upon ambition's gaudy wings,
Forgetful of his origin, and, worse,
Unthinking of his end, flies to the stream;
And if from hostile vigilance he 'scape,
Buoyant he flutters but a little while,
Mistakes the inverted image of the sky
For heaven itself, and, sinking, meets his fate.
Now, let me trace the stream up to its source
Among the hills; its runnel by degrees
Diminishing, the murmur turns a tinkle.
Closer and closer still the banks approach,
Tangled so thick with pleaching bramble-shoots,
With brier, and hazel branch, and hawthorn spray,
That, fain to quit the dingle, glad I mount
Into the open air; grateful the breeze
That fans my throbbing temples! smiles the plain
Spread wide below: how sweet the placid view!
But, oh more sweet the thought, heart-soothing thought,
That thousand and ten thousands of the sons
Of toil partake this day the common joy
Of rest, of peace, of viewing hill and dale,
Of breathing in the silence of the woods,
And blessing HIM who gave the Sabbath-day.
Yes, my heart flutters with a freer throb,
To think that now the townsman wanders forth
Among the fields and meadows, to enjoy
The coolness of the day's decline; to see
His children sport around, and simply pull
The flower and weed promiscuous, as a boon,
Which proudly in his breast they smiling fix.
Again I turn me to the hill, and trace
The wizard stream, now scarce to be discern'd;
Woodless its banks, but green with ferny leaves,
And thinly strew'd with heath-bells up and down.
Now, when the downward sun has left the glens,
Each mountain's rugged lineaments are traced
Upon the adverse slope, where stalks gigantic
The shepherd's shadow thrown across the chasm,
As on the topmost ridge he homeward hies.
How deep the hush! the torrent's channel, dry,
Presents a stony steep, the echo's haunt.
But hark, a plaintive sound floating along!
'Tis from yon heath-roof'd shielin; now it dies
Away, now rises full; it is the song
Which He who listens to the halleluias
Of choiring Seraphim delights to hear;
It is the music of the heart, the voice
Of venerable age,-of guileless youth,
In kindly circle seated on the ground
Before their wicker door. Behold the man!
The grandsire and the saint; his silvery locks
Beam in the parting ray; before him lies,
Upon the smooth-cropt sward, the open Book,
His comfort, stay, and ever-new delight;
While heedless, at his side, the lisping boy
Fondles the lamb that nightly shares his couch.
LOOSED from the winding lane, a joyful throng,
See o'er yon pasture how they pour along!
Giles round their boundaries takes his usual stroll,
Sees every gate secur'd, and fences whole:
High fences, proud to charm the gazing eye,
Where many a nestling first essays to fly;
Where blows the woodbine, faintly streak'd with red,
And rests on every bough its tender head;
Round the young ash its twining branches meet,
Or crown the hawthorn with its odour sweet.
Say, ye that know, ye who have felt and seen
Spring's morning smiles, and soul-enlivening green,
Say, did you give the thrilling transport way?
Did your eye brighten, when young lambs at play
Leap'd o'er your path with animated pride,
Or grazed in merry clusters by your side?
Ye who can smile, to wisdom no disgrace,
At the arch meaning of a kitten's face;
If spotless innocence, and infant mirth,
Excites to praise, or gives reflection birth;
In shades like these pursue your favourite joy,
Midst Nature's revels, sports that never cloy.
A few begin a short but vigorous race,
And indolence, abash'd, soon flies the place:
Thus challeng'd forth, see thither one by one.
From every side assembling playmates run;
A thousand wily antics mark their stay,
A starting crowd impatient of delay.
Like the fond dove, from fearful prison freed,
Each seems to say, "Come, let us try our speed;"
Away they scour, impetuous, ardent, strong,
The green turf trembling as they bound along;
Adown the slope, then up the hillock climb,
Where every mole-hill is a bed of thyme.
There panting stop; yet scarcely can refrain;
A bird, a leaf, will set them off again:
Or, if a gale with strength unusual blow,
Scattering the wild-brier roses into snow,
Their little limbs increasing efforts try,
Like the torn flower the fair assemblage fly.
THE FARMER'S BOY IN THE FIELDS.
SHOT up from broad rank blades that droop below,
The nodding wheat-ear forms a graceful bow,
With milky kernels starting full, weigh'd down,
Ere yet the sun hath tinged its head with brown;
Whilst thousands in a flock, for ever gay,
Loud-chirping sparrows welcome in the day,
And from the mazes of the leafy thorn
Drop one by one upon the bending corn.
Giles with a pole assails their close retreats,
And round the grass-grown dewy border beats;
On either side completely overspread,
Here branches bend, there corn o'ertops his head.
Green covert, hail! for thro' the varying year
No hours so sweet, no scene to him so dear.
Here Wisdom's placid eye delighted sees
His frequent intervals of lonely ease,
And with one ray his infant soul inspires,
Just kindling there her never-dying fires,
Whence solitude derives peculiar charms,
And heaven-directed thought his bosom warms.
Just where the parting bough's light shadows play,
Scarce in the shade, nor in the scorching day,
Stretch'd on the turf he lies, a peopled bed,
Where swarming insects creep around his head.
The small dust-colour'd beetle climbs with pain
O'er the smooth plantain leaf, a spacious plain!
Thence higher still, by countless steps convey'd,
He gains the summit of a shiv'ring blade,
And flirts his filmy wings, and looks around,
Exulting in his distance from the ground.