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But now the feathered 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 dissolves
Parental love at once, now needless grown.
730 Unlavish Wisdom never works in vain. 'Tis on some evening, sunny, 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
735 On Nature's common, far as they can see, Or wing, their range and pasture. O'er the boughs Dancing about, still at the giddy verge Their resolution fails; their pinions still, In loose vibration stretcht, to trust the void
740 Trembling refuse : till down before them fly The parent-guides, and chide, exhort, command, Or push them off. The surging air receives Its plumy burden; and their self-taught wings Winnow the waving element. On ground
745 Alighted, bolder up again they lead, Farther and farther on, the lengthening flight ; Till, vanished every fear, and every power Roused into life and action, light in air Th'acquitted parents see their soaring race,
750 And, once rejoicing, never know them more.
High from the summit of a craggy cliff, Hung o'er the deep, such as amazing frowns On utmost + Kilda's shore, whose lonely race Resign the setting sun to Indian worlds,
755 The royal eagle draws his vigorous young, Strong pounced, and ardent with paternal fire.
+ The farthest of the western islands of Scotland.
Diversions of the Feathered Kind.
Now fit to raise a kingdom of their own,
He drives them from his fort, the towering seat,
For ages, of his empire ; which, in peace,
760 Unstained he holds, while many a league to sea He wings his course, and preys in distant isles.
Should I my steps turn to the rural seat, Whose lofty elms, and venerable oaks, Invite the rook, who high amid the boughs,
765 In early Spring, his airy city builds, And ceaseless caws amusive ; there, well-pleased, I might the various polity survey Of the mixed household kind. The careful hen Calls all her chirping family around,
770 Fed and defended by the fearless cock ; Whose breast with ardour flames, as on he walks Graceful, and crows defiance. In the pond, The finely-checkered duck before her train i Rows garrulous. The stately-sailing swan
Gives out his snowy plumage to the gale ;
And, arching proud his neck, with oary feet
Bends forward fierce, and guards his ozier-isle,
Protective of his young. The turkey nigh,
Loud-threatening, reddens; while the peacock spreads 780
His every-coloured glory to the sun,
And swims in radiant majesty along:
O'er the whole homely scene, the cooing dove,
Flies thick in amorous chase, and wanton rolls
The glancing eye, and turns the changeful neck. 785
While thus the gentle tenants of the shade
Indulge their purer loves, the rougher world
Of brutes, below, rush furious into flame,
And fierce desire. Thro' all his lusty veins
The bull, deep-scorcht, the raging passion feels. 790
Of pasture sick, and negligent of food,
Scarce seen, he wades among the yellow broom,
While o’er his ample sides the rambling sprays
Luxuriant shoot ; or thro' the mazy wood
Dejected wanders, nor th' enticing bud
Crops, tho’ it presses on his careless sense.
And oft, in jealous maddening fancy wrapt,
He seeks the fight ; and, idly-butting, feigns
His rival gored in every knotty trunk.
Him should he meet, the bellowing war begins : 800
Their eyes flash fury ; to the hollowed earth,
Whence the sand lies, they mutter bloody deeds,
And, groaning deep, th’ impetuous battle mix :
While the fair heifer, balmy-breathing, near,
Stands kindling up their rage. The trembling stecd, 805
With this hot impulse seized in every nerve,
Nor heeds the rein, nor hears the sounding thong:
Blows are not felt ; but, tossing high his head,
And by the well-known joy to distant plains
Attracted strong, all wild he bursts away ;
810 O'er racks, and woods, and craggy mountains flies, And, neighing, on the aërial summit takes Th’exciting gale ; then, steep-descending, cleaves The headlong torrents foaming down the hills, Even where the madness of the straitened stream 815 Turns in black eddies round ; such is the force With which his frantic heart and sinews swell.
Nor undelighted by the boundless Spring Are the broad monsters of the foaming deep : From the deep ooze and gelid cavern rouzed, 820 They flounce and tumble in unwieldy joy.
Dire were the strain, and dissonant, to sing
The cruel raptures of the savage kind :
How by this flame their native wrath sublimed,
They roam, amid the fury of their heart,
The far-resounding waste in fiercer bands,
And growl their horrid loves. But this the theme
L'sing, enraptured, to the British Fair,
Forbids, and leads me to the mountain-brow,
Where sits the shepherd on the grassy turf, 830
Inbaling, healthful, the descending sun.
Around him feeds his many-bleating flock,
Of various cadence; and his sportive lambs,
This way and that convolved, in friskful glee,
Their frolics play. And now the sprightly race 835
Invites them forth ; when swift, the signal given,
They start away,
That runs around the hill; the rampart once
Of iron war, in ancient barbarous times,
When disunited Britain ever bled,
Lost in eternal broil : ere yet she greto
To this deep-laid indissoluble state,
Where Wealth and Commerce lift their golden heads ;
And o'er our labours, Liberty and Law,
Impartial, watch ; the wonder of a world !
845 What is this mighty Breath, ye sages, say, That, in a powerful language, felt, not heard, Instructs the fowls of heaven ; and thro' their breast These arts of love diffuses ? What but God ? Inspiring God! who, boundless Spirit all,
850 And unremitting Energy, pervades, Adjusts, sustains, and agitates the whole. He ceaseless works alone ; and yet alone
Energy of Divine Operations.
Seems not to work : with such perfection framed
Is this complex stupendous scheme of things.
But tho' concealed, to every purer eye
Th' informing Author in his works appears :
Chief, lovely Spring, in thee, and thy soft scenes,
The SMILING God is seen ; while water, earth,
And air attest his bounty ; which exalts
The brute creation to this finer thought,
And annual melts their undesigning hearts
Profusely thus in tenderness and joy.
Still let my song a nobler note assume,
And sing th' infusive force of Spring on Man ; 865
When heaven and earth, as if contending, vie
To raise his being and serene his soul.
Can he forbear to join the general smile
Of Nature? Can fierce passions vex his breast,
While every gale is peace, and every grove
Is melody ? Hence! from the bounteous walks
Of flowing Spring, ye sordid sons of earth,
Hard, and unfeeling of another's woe ;
Or only lavish to yourselves ; away !
But come, ye generous minds, in whose wide thought, 875
Of all his works, creative Bounty burns
With warmest beam ; and on your open front
And liberal eye, sits, from his dark retreat
Inviting modest want. Nor till invoked
Can restless goodness wait ; your active search 880
Leaves no cold wintry corner unexplored ;
Like silent working Heaven, surprising oft
The lonely heart with unexpected good.
For you the roving spirit of the wind
Blows Spring abroad ; for you the teeming clouds 885