Page images
PDF
EPUB

With roots and broken sticks and boughs, That custom for his toil allows; Or red-cloak'd housewife of the cot, Who from the vill her stores has got To cheer her household, when' they leave The barn or wood or field at eve; Or truant boys, whose cheerful voice Down in the vale we hear rejoice ; The horses' steps along the lane, Or the loud ring of loaded wain; Or from the public road afar The rattle of the fleeter car (While at each pause from yonder vale We hear the cuckoo tell her tale, Or gentle stockdove pour her moan In deep and melancholy tone); The babbling hounds, whose distant cries Waked by the horn's loud melodies, Or shrill-voiced huntsman's echoing cheer Die into music in the air; The bleating flock from yonder steep, The dog that bays the straying sheep, And shepherd's hallo from the hill, At which the obedient dog is still; The village artist's hasty stroke; The slower flail; the falling oak That echoes from the quaking dell; The rapid whirl from cottage well; The cattle, lowing from the farm; And thousand sounds beside, that charm, Now the wings of silence bear Distinct along the listening air.

Thus as the airy harp reclined Moves to the whispers of the wind,

VOL. III.

P

And, in return, from all its strings
With more melodious music rings;
The curious ear, in ecstasies,
Vibrates to Nature's harmonies,
And strives the rapture to repay
By mimic echoes of her lay.

SIR E. BRYDGES.

SONG TO THE BIRDS.

SWEET birds, whose songs and woodnotes wild
Cheer my walk at morning mild,
While I trace the hayfield round,
The margin of this grassy mound;
Full pleasant are your lays to me,
Gentle warblers, fond and free;
More welcome far than vernal showers;
Chanted from your happy bowers,
Built on Cherwell's alder'd edge,
Mid the hawthorn-blooming hedge;
Sweet birds, those bowers no more shall be
To you retreat, or joy to me:
As late near yon unsullied stream
I framed my fond poetic theme,
Near my path, upon the ground,
Recent from the cruel wound,
Fallen from his native spray,
A bleeding linnet panting lay.
Fly, fly, sweet birds, these limits fly,
For see, your barbarous foe is nigh,
And aims at your devoted breath
His iron weapon charged with death!

Wretch of rude and rugged soul,
Stranger to pity's soft control,
Who violates the rural glee
Of Nature's sweetest minstrelsy,
Who banishes the race of love,
The tuneful tenants of the grove,
Unpeoples all the vocal ground,
And desolates the hills around !
Ye throstles blithe, whose matin strains
Melodise the lonely plains;
Ye nightingales, the woods among,
Where warbles wild your midnight song,
If e'er my fond enamour'd ear
Hath loved your siren plaints to hear,
If e'er my steps have loved to tread
The dewy vale and moonlight mead,
Where the lone mate in craggy dell
Bemoans her absent Philomel,
Or to the trees in piteous strains
Still of her plunder'd nest complains ;
And all ye various-plumed train,
Who haunt the stream or wing the plain;
Hence, gentle birds, spontaneous flee
With peace, with safety, and with me,
And seek with me the distant vales
That smooth the rugged brow of Wales,
Where of hills a mighty mound
Rears its magic circle round:
There in some villa's calm recess
Health my careless days shall bless.
There lead me forth at break of morn,
Ere sounds the hunter's buglehorn,
There oft shall win my willing ear
Your unbought harmony to hear;

Yet my grateful hands shall pay.
With due reward your carols gay;
And to your bills the crumbs afford
That fall from my unpamper'd board,
And build for you the winter shed,
The wicker'd roof and mossy bed.
To your arbour's private home,
Hither, gentle wanderers, come;
Through the copse and by the streams
Tune your nature-prompted themes ;
And to the charmed ear of Spring
Such enchanting descants sing
As may beguile Affliction's tear,
Such as innocence may hear ;
Soft as the gales young Zephyr brings,
Or the plumage of your wings;
Far sweeter than the feeble note
Warbled from a eunuch's throat,
Far sweeter than the lisping lays
Which the siren Flattery pays,
At her late and early hour,
On the golden shrine of Power.

When the shades of evening comé,
Here the busy bees shall hum,
Here shall range the thymy beds
When her dews young morning sheds,
And love my limits lone and still
More than Hybla's honey'd hill.
These hives, the green parterres among,
Be your cells, industrious throng ;
Nor from your nectar-streaming hoard
Refuse, to grace my simple board,
A portion due, content that here
No drone invades your dulcet cheer,

No creeping flames your hives annoy,
Nor music lures you to destroy.

You too, ye feather'd tribes of air,
The same security shall share;
Here shall dread no secret net
Mid the thorny thicket set ;
Nor kites nor hawks, a bloody throng,
Nor griping vulture's talon strong,
Who, taught by man, with rage refined,
Devour their own devoted kind.
Say, silvan quire, what dire offence
Hath stain'd your native innocence,
That danger thus, with ceaseless course,
Pursues your flight, your haunts explores ?
Oft have I seen your callow care
Hard-struggling in the birdlime snare:
So the rash youth, in grief I said,
If once the path of vice he tread,
Caught in the toils of treachery,
In vain long labours to be free:
But ne'er hath pride your minds possess’d,
Harmless offspring of the nest,
Nor folly e'er your hearts beguiled,
Nor guilt disgraced your manners mild,
Which still to active instinct true
Kind Nature's simple paths pursue.

Nor these the only ills you bear,
Winged inhabitants of air :
From danger and from death you fly,
Alas! to loss of liberty ;
Condemn’d to leave your native groves,
Unfinish'd songs, and feather'd loves ;
Condemn'd to change your airy downs
For busy streets of peopled towns :

« PreviousContinue »