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A RAVEN, while with glossy breast
Her new-laid eggs she fondly pressed,
And on her wicker-work high mounted,
Her chickens prematurely counted,
(A fault philosophers might blame
If quite exempted from the same),
Enjoyed at ease the genial day;
"Twas April as the bumpkins say,
The legislature called it May.
But suddenly a wind as high,
As ever swept a winter sky,
Shook the young leaves about her ears,
And filled her with a thousand fears,
Lest the rude blast should snap the bough,
And spread her golden hopes below.
But just at eve the blowing weather,
And all her fears were hushed together:
And now, quoth poor unthinking Ralph,
'Tis over, and the brood is safe;
For ravens, though as birds of omen
They teach both conjurors and old women
To tell us what is to befall,
Can't prophesy themselves at all.)
The morning came when neighbour Hodge,
Who long had marked her airy lodge,
And destined all the treasure there
A gift to his expecting fair,
Climbed liked a squirrel to his dray,
And bore the worthless prize away.
'Tis Providence alone secures
In every change both mine and yours:
Safety consists not in escape
From dangers of a frightful shape;
An earthquake may be bid to spare
The man, that's strangled by a hair.
Fate steals along with silent tread,
Found oftenest in what least we dread,
Frowns in the storm with angry brow,
But in the sunshine strikes the blow.
THE lapse of time and rivers is the same,
Both speed their journey with a restless stream;
The silent pace, with which they steal away,
No wealth can bribe, no prayer persuade to stay;
Alike irrevocable both when past,
And a wide ocean swallows both at last.
Though each resemble each in every part,
A difference strikes at length the musing heart;
Streams never flow in vain; where streams abound,
How laughs the land with various plenty crowned!
But time, that should enrich the nobler mind,
Neglected leaves a dreary waste behind.
ADDRESSED TO A YOUNG LADY.
SWEET stream, that winds through yonder glade,
Apt emblem of a virtuous maid--
Silent and chaste she steals along,
Far from the world's gay busy throng;
With gentle yet prevailing force,
Intent upon her destined course;
Graceful and useful all she does,
Blessing and blest where'er she goes,
Pure-bosomed as that watery glass,
And heaven reflected in her face.
POET'S NEW YEAR'S GIFT.
TO MRS. (NOW LADY) THROCKMORTON.
MARIA! I have every good
For thee wished many a time,
Both sad, and in a cheerful mood,
But never yet'in rhyme.
To wish thee fairer is no need,
More prudent, or more sprightly,
Or more ingenious, or more freed
From temper-flaws unsightly.
What favour then not yet possessed
Can I for thee require,
In wedded love already blest,
To thy whole heart's desire?
None here is happy but in part:
Full bliss is bliss divine;
There dwells some wish in every heart,
And doubtless one in thine.
That wish, on some fair future day,
Which fate shall brightly gild,
('Tis blameless, be it what it may)
I wished it all fulfilled.
ON AN INK-GLASS ALMOST DRIED IN THE SUN.
PATRON of all those luckless brains,
That to the wrong side leaning
Indite much metre with much pains,
And little or no meaning.
Ah why, since oceans, rivers, streams,
That water all the nations,
Pay tribute to thy glorious beams,
In constant exhalations---
Why stooping from the noon of day,
Too covetous of drink,
Apollo, hast thou stolen away
A poet's drop of ink?
Upborne into the viewless air,
It floats a vapour now,
Impelled through regions dense and rare,
By all the winds that blow.
PAIRING TIME ANTICIPATED.
Ordained perhaps, ere summer flies,
Combined with millions more,
To form an Iris in the skies,
Though black and foul before.
Illustrious drop! and happy then
Beyond the happiest lot,
Of all that ever passed my pen,
So soon to be forgot!
Phœbus, if such be thy design,
To place it in thy bow,
Give wit, that what is left may shine
With equal grace below.
PAIRING TIME ANTICIPATED.
SHALL not ask Jean Jacques Rousseau *, If birds confabulate or no;
('Tis clear that they were always able
To hold discourse, at least, in fable ;)
And e'en the child, who knows no better,
Than to interpret by the letter,
A story of a cock and bull,
Must have a most uncommon skull.
It chanced then on a winter's day,
But warm and bright, and calm as May,
The birds conceiving a design
To forestal sweet St. Valentine,
In many an orchard, copse, and grove,
Assembled on affairs of love,
And with much twitter and much chatter,
Began to agitate the matter.
* It was one of the whimsical speculations of this philosopher, that all fables which ascribe reason and speech to animals should be withheld from children, as being only vehicles of deception. But what child was ever deceived by them, or can be, against the evidence of his senses?
At length a bulfinch, who could boast
More years and wisdom than the most,
Entreated, opening wide his beak,
A moment's liberty to speak;
And, silence publicly enjoined,
Delivered briefly thus his mind :
My friends! be cautious how ye treat
The subject, upon which ye meet;
I fear we shall have winter yet.
A finch, whose tongue knew no control,
With golden wing and satin poll,
A last year's bird, who ne'er had tried
What marriage means, thus pert replied:
Methinks the gentleman, quoth she,
Opposite in the apple-tree,
By his good-will would keep us single
Till yonder heaven and earth shall mingle,
Or (which is likelier to befall)
Till death exterminate us all.
I marry without more ado,
My dear Dick Redcap, what say you?
Dick heard, and tweedling, ogling, bridling, Turning short round, strutting, and sideling, Attested, glad, his approbation
Of an immediate conjugation.
Their sentiments so well expressed,
Influenced mightily the rest,
All paired, and each pair built a nest.
But though the birds were thus in haste, The leaves came on not quite so fast, And destiny, that sometimes bears An aspect stern on man's affairs, Not altogether smiled on theirs. The wind, of late breathed gently forth, Now shifted east and east by north; Bare trees and shrubs but ill, you know, Could shelter them from rain or snow, Stepping into their nests, they paddled, Themselves were chilled, their eggs were addled; Soon every father bird and mother
Grew quarrelsome, and pecked each other,