Page images



O RUSTIC herald of the spring,
At length, in yonder woody vale,
Fast by the brook I hear thee sing;
And, studious of thy homely tale,
Amid the vespers of the grove,
Amid the chanting choir of love,
Thy sage responses hail.

The time has been when I have frown'd To hear thy voice the woods invade ; And while thy solemn accent drown'd Some sweeter poet of the shade: Thus, thought I, thus the sons of care Some constant youth or generous fair With dull advice upbraid.

I said,

"While Philomela's song

Proclaims the passion of the grove,

It ill beseems the Cuckoo's tongue

Her charming language to reprove."
Alas! how much a lover's ear

Hates all the sober truth to hear,
The sober truth of love!

When hearts are in each other blest,
When nought but lofty faith can rule
The nymph's and swain's consenting breast,
How cuckoo-like in Cupid's school,
With store of grave, prudential saws
On fortune's power and custom's laws,
Appears each friendly fool!

Yet think betimes, ye gentle train,
Whom love, and hope, and fancy sway,

Who every harsher care disdain,

Who by the morning judge the day;
Think that, in April's fairest hours,
To warbling shades and painted flowers,
The Cuckoo joins his lay.

[blocks in formation]

We have a petitioner :

Name and lineage would you know?
'Tis Apollo's child, the Crow,
Waiting till your hands dispense
Gift of barley, bread, and pence.
Be it but a lump of salt,

His is not the mouth to halt.
Nought that's proffer'd he denies :
Long experience makes him wise.
Who to-day gives salt, he knows,
Next day fig or honey throws.

* The crows," says Mr. Mitchell, the translator of Aristophanes, 66 appear to have been in great disfavour with the Athenians. They had the fee-simple of all that society wished to eject from itself; and thus stood to the Greeks somewhat in the relation of that malignant person, who, according to Rabelais, breakfasts on the souls of serjeants-at-arms fricasseed. But this song will show that this dislike to the crow did not prevail universally among the Greeks, but that the same use was made, in some parts, of the crow as was made of the swallow."


Open, open gate and door:
Mark! the moment we implore,
Comes the daughter of the squire,
With such figs as wake desire.
Maiden, for this favour done,
May thy fortunes, as they run,
Ever brighten: be thy spouse
Rich, and of a noble house;
May thy sire, in aged ease,

Nurse a boy who calls thee mother;
And his grandame, on her knees,

Rock a girl who calls him brother;
Kept as bride in reservation,
For some favour'd near relation.
But enough now: I must tread
Where my feet and eyes are led,
Dropping at each door a strain,
Let me lose my suit or gain.

Then search, worthy gentles, the cupboard's close


To the lord, and still more to the lady, we look :
Custom warrants the suit, let it still then bear


And your Crow, as in duty most bounden, shall pray.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

THE Swallow, the Swallow, has burst on the sight,

He brings us gay seasons of vernal delight;
His back it is sable, his belly is white.

Can your pantry nought spare,

That his palate may please,

A fig, or a pear,

Or a slice of rich cheese?

Mark, he bars all delay:

At a word, my friend, say,
Is it yes-is it nay?

Do we go-do we stay?

*The song of the swallow, who, as the harbinger of spring, was a great favourite among the Greeks, by which, too, the little mendicants used to levy contributions on the good-nature of their fellow-citizens.

« PreviousContinue »