Page images
PDF
EPUB

POEMS ON ANIMALS.

THE CHILD AND THE PIPER.
PIPING down the valleys wild,

Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,

And he, laughing, said to me-
“Pipe a song about a lamb,”

So I piped with merry cheer;
“ Piper, pipe that song again,”

So I piped, he wept to hear.
“Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe,

Sing thy songs of happy cheer.
So I sang the same again,

While he wept with joy to hear.
“Piper, sit thee down and write,

In a book that all may read.”
So he vanish’d from my sight;

And I pluck'd a hollow reed.
And I made a rural pen,

And I stain'd the water clear;
And I wrote my happy songs,
Every child may joy to hear.

W. Blake.

THE LAST OF THE FLOCK.
In distant countries have I been,
And yet I have not often seen
A healthy man, a man full grown,
Weep in the public roads alone;
But such a one, on English ground,
And in the broad highway I met;
Along the broad highway he came,
His cheeks with tears were wet:
Sturdy he seeni’d, though he was sad;
And in his arms a lamb he had.

He saw me, and he turn’d aside,
As if he wish'd himself to hide :
And with his coat did then essay
To wipe those briny tears away.
I follow'd him and said, “My friend,
What ails you ! wherefore weep you so ?”
“ Shame on me, Sir! this lusty lamb,
He makes my tears to flow.
To-day I fetch'd him from the rock ;
He is the last of all my flock.
“When I was young, a single man,
And after youthful follies ran,
Though little given to care and thouglit,
Yet so it was, an ewe I bought;
And other sheep from her I raised,
As healthy sheep as you might see;
And then I married, and was rich
As I could wish to be;
Of sheep I number'd a full score,
And every year increased my store.
“Year after year my stock it grew;
And from this one, this single ewe,
Full fifty comely sheep I raised,
As fine a flock as ever grazed !
Upon the Quantock Hills they fed ;
They throve, and we at home did thrive :
This lusty lamb of all my store
Is all that is alive;
And now I care not if we die,
And perish all of poverty.
“Six children, Sir, had I to feed;
Hard labor, in a time of need!
My pride was tamed, and in our grief,
I of the parish ask'd relief,
They said I was a wealthy man:
My sheep upon the uplands fed,
And it was fit that thence I took
Whereof to buy us bread.

Do this; how can we give to you,'
They cried, 'what to the poor is due ?
“I sold a sheep, as they had said,
And bought my little children bread,

And they were healthy with their food;
For me*-it never did me good.
A woeful time it was for me,
To see the end of all my gains,
The pretty flock which I had rear'd
With all my care and pains,
To see it melt like snow away-
For me it was a woeful day.

“Another still! and still another!
A little lamb, and then its mother!
It was a vein that never stopp'd-
Like blood drops from my heart they drop)!; 'd,
Till thirty were not left alive;
They dwindled, dwindled, one by one;
And I may say that many a tinie
I wish'd they all were gone;
Reckless of what might come at last,
Were but the bitter struggle past.
“To wicked deeds I was inclined,
And wicked fancies cross'd my mind;
And every man I chanced to see,
I thought he knew some ill of me.
No peace, no comfort could I find,
No ease withiri doors or without ;
And crazily and wearily
I went my work about;
And oft was moved to flee from home
And hide my head where wild beasts roam..

“Sir, 'twas a precious flock to me,
As dear as my own children be ;
For daily with my growing store
I loved my children more and more.
Alas! it was an evil time;
God cursed me in my sore distress;
I pray’d, yet every day I thought
I loved my children less;
And every week, and every day,
My flock it seem’d to melt away ;

“ They dwindled, Sir, sad sight to see! From ten to five, from five to three.

* For me, as for me.

A lamb, a wether, and a ewe,
And then at last from three to two;
And, of my fifty, yesterday
I had but only one :
And here it lies upon my arm.
Alas, and I have none;
To-day I fetch'd it from the rock-
It is the last of all my flock.”

W. Wordsworth.

THE ROMANCE OF THE SWAN'S NEST.

LITTLE Ellie sits alone,
'Mid the beeches of a meadow,

By the stream-side on the grass ;

And the trees are showering down
Doubles of their leaves in shadow

On her shining hair and face.

She has thrown her bonnet by;
And her feet she has been dipping

In the shallow waterz' flow

Now she holds them nakedly
In her hands, all sleek and dripping,

While she rocketh to and fro.

Little Ellie sits alone,
And the smile she softly useth

Fills the silence like a speech :
While she thinks what shall be done,
And the sweetest pleasure chooseth

For her future, within reach.

Little Ellie in her smile
Chooseth—“I will have a lover,

Riding on a steed of steeds !

He shall love me without guile; and to him I will discover ,

That swan's nest among the reeds.

“ And the steed it shall be red-roan, And the lover shall be noble,

With an eye that takes the breath,

And the lute he plays upon
Shall strike ladies into trouble,

As his sword strikes men to death.

« PreviousContinue »