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TO THE CROW RETURNING HOME.
SAY, weary bird, whose level flight,
Thus at the dusky hour of night
Tends thro' the midway air,
Why yet beyond the verge of day
Is lengthen'd out thy dark delay,
Adding another to the hours of care ?
The wren within her mossy nest
Has hush'd her little brood to rest;
The wood wild pigeon, rock'd on high,
Has coo'd his last soft note of love,
And fondly nestles by his dove,
To guard their downy young from an inclement sky.
Haste, bird, and nurse thy callow* brood,
They call on Heaven and thee for food,
Bleak-on some cliff's neglected tree !
Haste, weary bird, thy lagging flight-
It is the chilling hour of night,
Fit hour of rest for thee!
HAPPY insect! what can be
In happiness compared to thee ?
Fed with nourishment divine,
The dewy morning's gentle wine !
Nature waits upon thee still,
And thy verdant cup does fill;
'Tis filld wherever thou dost tread,
Nature's self's thy Ganymede.t
Thou dost drink, and dance, and sing,
Happier than the happiest king !
All the fields which thou dost see,
All the plants belong to thee,
All that summer hours produce,
Fertile made with early juice:
Man for thee does sow and plough;
Farmer he and landlord thou!
Thou dost innocently joy,
Nor does thy luxury destroy. * Callow, naked, unfledged. † Ganymede, (Jove's) cupbearer.
The shepherd gladly heareth thee, More harmonious than he. Thee, country minds with gladness hear, Prophet of the ripened year: Thee Phæbus * loves and does inspire; Phoebus is himself thy sire. To thee of all things upon earth, Life is no longer than thy mirth; Happy insect! happy thou, Dost neither age nor winter know: But when thou'st drunk, and danced, and sung Thy fill, the flowery leaves among (Voluptuous and wise withal, Epicureant animal), Sated with the summer feast. Thou retir'st to endless rest.
TO THE CUCKOO.
O BLITHE new comer! I have heard,
I hear thee, and rejoice :
O Cuckoo! shall I call thee bird,
Or but a wandering voice ?
While I am lying on the grass
Thy twofold shout I hear;
From hill to hill it seems to pass,
At once far off and near.
Though babbling only to the vale
Of sunshine and of flowers,
Thou bringest unto me a tale
Of visionary hours.
Thrice welcome, darling of the spring!
Even yet thou art to me
No bird, but an invisible thing,
A voice, a mystery ;
The same whom in my school-boy days
I listen’d to; that cry
Which made me look a thousand ways,
In bush, and tree, and sky. * Phæbus (Apollo), the Sun. of Epicurean, dainty.
To seek thee did I often rove
Through woods and on the green; And thou wert still a hope, a love;
Still long'd for, never seen. And I can listen to thee yet;
Can lie upon the plain
And listen, till I do beget
That golden time again.
O blessed bird ! the earth we pace
Again appears to be
An insubstantial, fairy place,
That is fit home for thee.
ODE TO THE CUCKOO.
Hail, beauteous stranger of the grove !
Thou messenger of spring!
Now Heaven repairs thy rural seat,
And woods thy welcome sing.
What time the daisy decks the green,
Thy certain voice we hear;
Hast thou a star to guide thy path,
Or mark the rolling year ?
Delightful visitant, with thee
I hail the time of flowers,
And hear the sound of music sweet
From birds among the bowers
The schoolboy wandering through the wood
To pull the primrose gay,
Starts the new voice of spring to hear,
And imitates thy lay.
What time the pea puts on the bloom
Thou fliest thy vocal vale,
An annual guest in other lands,
Another spring to hail.
Sweet bird ! thy bower is ever green,
Thy sky is ever clear ;
Thou hast no sorrow in thy song,
No winter in thy year!
Oh, could I fly, I'd fly with thee!
We'd make, with joyful wing,
Our annual visit o'er the globe,
Companions of the spring.
FAREWELL, O warbler, till to-morrow eve;
And you, my friends, farewell, a short farewell !
We have been loitering long and pleasantly :
And now for our dear homes. That strain again!
Full fain it would delay me! My dear babe,
Who, capable of no articulate sound,
Mars all things with his imitative lisp,
How he would place his hand beside his ear,
His little hand, the small forefinger up,
And bid us listen! And I deem it wise
To make him nature's playmate. He knows well
The evening star; and once, wlien he awoke
In most distressful mood (some inward pain
Had made up that strange thing, an infant's dream),
I hurried with him to our orchard plot,
And he beheld the moon, and, hush'd at once,
Suspends his sobs, and laughs most silently,
While his fair eyes, that swam with undropp'd tears,
Did glitter in the yellow moonbeam. Well!-
It is a father's tale. But if that Heaven
Should give me life, his childhood shall grow up
Familiar with these songs, that with the night
He may associate joy! Once more, farewell!
Sweet nightingale ! Once more, my friend, farewell !
TO A SKYLARK.
Hail to thee, blithe spirit !
Bird thou never wert,
That from heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated* art.
* Unpremeditated, unconsidered, improvised.
Higher still, and higher,
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever, singest.
In the golden lightening
Of the sunken sun,
O’er which clouds are brightening,
Thou dost float and run,
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.
The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of heaven,
In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight.
Keen are the arrows
Of that silver sphere,
Whose intense lamp narrows
In the white dawn clear,
Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.
All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
As, when night is bare,
From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflow'd.
What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see,
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.
Like a poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden,
Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not.
Like a high-born, maiden
In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden
Soul in secret hour,
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower.