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Devotional Sentiments.



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At Thy command the vernal sun awakes
The torpid sap, detruded to the root
By wintry winds ; that now in fluent dance,
And lively fermentation, mounting, spreads
All this innumerous-coloured scene of things.

As rising from the vegetable world
My theme ascends, with equal wing ascend,
My panting Muse! and hark, how loud the woods
Invite you forth in all your gayest trim.
Lend me your song, ye nightingales! oh pour
The mazy-running soul of melody
Into my varied verse ; while I deduce,
From the first note the hollow cuckoo sings,
The symphony of Spring, and touch a theme
Unknown to fame, The passion of the groves.'

When first the soul of love is sent abroad,
Warm thro' the vital air, and on the heart
Harmonious seizes, the gay troops begin,
In gallant thought, to plume the pointed wing :
And try again the long-forgotten strain,
At first faint warbled. But no sooner grows
The soft infusion prevalent, and wide,
Than, all alive, at once their joy o'erflows
In music unconfined. Up springs the lark,
Shrill-voiced, and loud, the messenger of morn :
Ere yet the shadows fly, he mounted sings
Amid the dawning clouds, and from their haunts
Calls up the tuneful nations. Every copse
Deep-tangled, tree irregular, and bush
Bending with dewy moisture, o'er the heads
Of the coy quiristers that lodge within,
Are prodigal of harmony. The thrush




Loves of the Birds.

And wood-lark, o'er the kind contending throng
Superior heard, run thro' the sweetest length
Of notes ; when listening Philomela deigns
To let them joy, and purposes, in thought
Elate, to make her night excel their day.

The black-bird whistles from the thorny brake ;
The mellow bullfineh answers from the grove :
Nor are the linnets, o'er the flowering furze
Poured out profusely, silent. Joined to these
Innumerous songsters, in the freshening, shade 605
Of new-sprung leaves, their modulations mix,
Mellifluous. The jay, the rook, the daw,
And each harsh pipe, discordant heard alone,
Aid the full concert : while the stock-dove breathes,
A melancholy murmur thro' the whole.

610 'Tis love creates their melody, and all This waste of music is the voice of love ; That even to birds, and beasts, the tender arts Of pleasing teaches. Hence the glossy kind Try every winning way inventive love

615 Can dictate, and in courtship to their mates Pour forth their little souls. First, wide around, With distant awe, in airy rings they rove, Endeavouring by a thousand tricks to catch The cunning, conscious, half-averted glance

620 Of the regardless charmer. Should she seem, Softening, the least approvance to bestow, Their colours burnish, and, by hope inspired, They brisk advance ; then on a sudden struck, Retire disordered; then again approach ;

625 In fond rotation spread the spotted wing, And shiver every feather with desire.

Fabrication of Nests.




Connubial leagues agreed, to the deep woods
They haste away, all as their fancy leads,
Pleasure, or food, or secret safety prompts ;
That Nature's great command may be obeyed;
Nor all the sweet sensations they perceive
Indulged 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 is insects, and its moss their nests :
Others apart far in the grassy dale,
Or roughening waste, their humble texture weave.

But most in woodland solitudes delight, 0

In unfrequented glooms, or shaggy banks,
Steep, and divided by a babbling brook,
Whose murmurs soothe them all the live-long day,
When by kind duty fixed. Among the roots

Of hazel, pendent o'er the plaintive stream,
í 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 throʻ the busy air,

Beat by unnumbered wings. The swallow sweeps 0' 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 unobserved,

Steal from the barn a straw : till soft and warm,
Ś Clean, and complete, their habitation grows.

As thus the patient dam assiduous sits, Not to be tempted from her tender task,





Affection of Birds for their Young.

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Or by sharp hunger, or by smooth delight,

Tho’the whole loosened Spring around her blows,
Her sympathizing lover takes his stand
High on th’opponent bank, and ceaseless sings
The tedious time away ; or else supplies
Her place a moment, while she sudden flits
To pick the scanty meal. Th' appointed time
With pious toil fulfilled, the callow young,
Warmed and expanded into perfect life,
Their brittle bondage break, and come to light,
A helpless family, demanding food

With constant 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 s

Which equally distributed, again
The search begins. Even so a gentle pair,
By fortune sunk, but formed of generous mould,
And charmed with cares beyond the vulgar breast,
In some lone cot amid the distant woods,

Sustained 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 inspired, 695
Gives instant 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 whirling thence, as if alarmed, deceive

Th' unfeeling school-boy. Hence, around the head
Of wandering swain, the white-winged plover wheels

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Cruelty of confining Birds.

Her sounding flight, and then directly on
In long excursion skims the level lawn,
To tempt him from her nest. The wild-duck, hence, 695
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 ashamed, here to bemoan
Her brothers of the grove, by tyrant Man

700 Inhuman caught, and in the narrow cage From liberty confined, and boundless air. Dúll are the pretty slaves, their plumage dull, Ragged, and all its brightening lustre lost ; Nor is that sprightly wildness in their notes,

705 Which, clear and vigorous, warbles from the beech. Oh then, ye friends of love, and love-taught song, Spare the soft tribes, this barbarous art forbear; If on your bosom innocence can win, Music engage, or piety persuade!

710 But let not chief the nightingale lament Her ruined care, too delicately framed To brook the harsh confinement of the cage. Oft when, returning with her loaded bill, Th' astonished mother finds a vacant nest, By the hard hand of unrelenting clowns Robbed, to the ground the vain provision falls ; Her pinions ruffle, and, low-drooping, scarce Can bear the mourner to the poplar shade ; Where, all abandoned to despair, she sings

720 Her sorrow throʻ the night ; and on the bough

Sole-sitting, still at every dying fall 1

Takes up again her lamentable strain
Of winding woe; till wide around the woods
Sigh to her song, and with her wail resound.



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