Page images
PDF
EPUB

Endeavouring, by a thousand tricks, to catch
The cunning, conscious, half-averted glance
Of their regardless charmer. Should she seem
Softening the least approvance to bestow,
Their colours burnish, and by hope inspir’d,
They brisk advance ; then, on a sudden struck,
Retire disorder'd; then again approach ;
In fond rotation spread the spotted wing,
And shiver

every

feather with desire. Connubial leagues agreed, to the deep woods They hafte away, all as their fancy leads, Pleasure, or food, or secret safety prompts ; That Nature's great command may be obey'd ; Nor all the sweet sensations they perceive Indulg'd in vain. Some to the holly-hedge Nestling repair, and to the thicket some; Some to the rude protection of the thorn Commit their feeble offspring : the cleft tree Offers its kind concealment to a few, Their food its infects, and its moss their nefts. Others apart far in the grassy dale, Or roughening waste, their humble texture weave. But most in woodland solitudes delight, In unfrequented glooms, or shaggy banks, Steep, and divided by a babbling brook,

Whofe murmurs foothe them all the live-long day,
When by kind duty fix'd. Among the roots
Of hazel, pendant o'er the plaintive stream,
They frame the first foundation of their domes ;
Dry sprigs of trees, in artful fabric laid,
And bound with clay together. Now 'tis nought
But restless hurry thro? the busy air,
Beat by unnumber'd wings. The swallow sweeps
The slimy pool, to build his hanging house
Intent. And often, from the careless back
Of herds and flocks a thousand tugging bills
Pluck hair and wool; and oft, when unobserv’d,
Steal from the barn a straw : till soft and warm,
Clean, and complete, their habitation grows.

As thus the patient dam afsiduous fits,
Not to be tempted from her tender talk,
Or by sharp hunger, or by smooth delight,
Tho' the whole loosen'd Spring around her blows,
Her sympathizing lover takes his stand
High on th' opponent bank, and ceafeless fings
The tedious time away į or else fupplies
Her place a moment, while she sudden flits
To pick the scanty meal. Th' appointed time
With pious toil fulfill'd, the callow young,
Warm’d and expanded into perfect life,

Their brittle bondage break, and come to light,
A helplefs family, demanding food
With conftant clamour : O what passions then,
What melting sentiments of kindly care,
On the new parents seize! Away they fly
Affectionate, and undesiring bear
The most delicious morsel to their young ;
Which equally distributed, again
The search begins. Even fo a gentle pair,
By fortune funk, but form’d of generous mold,
And charm’d with cares beyond the vulgar breaft,
In some lone cot, amid the distant woods,
Sustain'd alone by providential HEAVEN,
Oft, as they weeping eye their infant train,
Check their own appetites, and give them all.

Nor toil alone they scorn ; exalting love,
By the great FATHER OF THE SPRING inspir'd,
Gives inftant courage to the fearful race,
And to the simple art. With stealthy wing,
Should some rude foot their woody haunts molest,
Amid a neighbouring bush they silent drop,
And whirring thence, as if alarm'd, deceive
Th' unfeeling school-boy. Hence, around the head
Of wandering swain, the white-wing'd plover wheels
Her founding flight, and then directly on

[ocr errors]

In long excursion skims the level lawn,
To tempt him from her nest. The wild-duck, hence,
O’er the rough moss, and o’er the trackless waste
The heath-hen flutters, pious fraud ! to lead
The hot pursuing spaniel far astray.

Be not the Muse asham’d, here to bemoan
Her brothers of the grove, by tyrant Man
Inhuman caught, and in the narrow cage
From liberty confin’d, and boundless air.
Dull are the pretty flaves, their plumage dull,
Ragged, and all its brightening luftre loft ;
Nor is that sprightly wildness in their notes,
Which, clear and vigorous, warbles from the beech.
O then, ye friends of love, and love-taught song,
Spare the soft tribes, this barbarous art forbear ;
If
your

bosom innocence can win,
Music engage, or piety persuade.

But let not chief the nightingale lament
Her ruin'd care, too delicately fram'd
To brook the harsh confinement of the

cage.
Oft when, returning with her loaded bill,
Th’ astonish'd mother finds a vacant nest,
By the hard hand of unrelenting clowns
Robb’d, to the ground the vain provision falls i
Her pinions ruffle, and low-drooping scarce

on

Can bear the mourner to the poplar shade ;
Where, all abandon'd to despair, she sings
Her sorrows thro' the night; and, on the bough,
Sole-fitting, still at every dying fall
Takes up again her lamentable strain
Of winding woe ; till, wide around, the woods
Sigh to her song, and with her wail resound.

But now the feather'd youth their former bounds,
Ardent, disdain ; and, weighing oft their wings,
Demand the free possession of the sky:
This one glad office more, and then diffolves
Parental love at once, now needless grown.
Urlavish Wisdom never works in vain.
'Tis on some evening, funny, grateful, mild,
When nought but balm is breathing thro' the woods,
With yellow lustre bright, that the new tribes
Visit the spacious heavens, and look abroad
On Nature's common, far as they can see,
Or wing, their range and pasture. Q'er the boughs
Dancing about, still at the giddy verge
Their resolution fails ; their pinions still,
In loose libration stretch'd, to trust the void
Trembling refuse: till down before them fly,
The parent-guides, and chide, exhort, command,
Or push them off. The surging air receives

« PreviousContinue »