Слике страница
PDF
ePub

Yet let us think upon the vernal showers
That gladden the green earth, and we shall find
A pleasure in the dimness of the stars.
And hark! the Nightingale begins its song,
Most musical, most melancholy bird !
A melancholy bird ? Oh, idle thought!
In nature there is nothing melancholy.
But some night-wandering man, whose heart was

pierced With the remembrance of a grievous wrong, Or slow distemper, or neglected love, (And so, poor wretch! fill'd all things with him

self, And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale Of his own sorrow,) he, and such as he, First named these notes a melancholy strain, And many a poet echoes the conceit; Poet who hath been building up the rhyme, When he had better far have stretch'd his limbs Beside a brook in mossy forest-dell, By sun or moonlight, to the influxes Of shapes and sounds, and shifting elements, Surrendering his whole spirit, of his song And of his fame forgetful! so his fame Should share in Nature's immortality, A venerable thing! and so his song Should make all Nature lovelier, and itself

Beloved like Nature! But 't will not be so;
And youths and maidens, most poetical,
Who lose the deepening twilights of the spring
In ball-rooms and hot theatres, they still,
Full of meek sympathy, must heave their sighs
O’er Philomela’s pity-pleading strains.

My friend, and thou, our sister! we have learnt À different lore: we may not thus profane Nature's sweet voices, always full of love And joyance! 'Tis the merry Nightingale, That crowds, and hurries, and precipitates, With fast, thick warble, his delicious notes, As he were fearful that an April night Would be too short for him to utter forth His love-chant, and disburthen his fell soul Of all its music!

And I know a grove Of large extent, hard by a castle huge, Which the great lord inhabits not; and so This grove is wild with tangling underwood, And the trim walks are broken up, and grass, Thin grass and king-cups, grow within the paths. But never elsewhere, in one place, I knew So many Nightingales; and far and near, In wood and thicket, over the wide grove,

They answer, and provoke each other's song,
With skirmish and capricious passagings,
And murmurs musical, and swift jug-jug,
And one low piping sound more sweet than all ;
Stirring the air with such a harmony,
That should you close your eyes, you might

almost
Forget it was not day! On moonlight bushes,
Whose dewy leaflets are but half disclosed,
You may, perchance, behold them on the twigs,
Their bright, bright eyes, their eyes both bright

and full, Glittering, while many a glow-worm in the shade Lights up her love-torch!

A most gentle maid,
Who dwelleth in her hospitable home,
Hard by the castle, and at latest eve
(Even like a lady vow'd and dedicate
To something more than Nature in the grove)
Glides through the pathways: she knows all their

notes,
That gentle maid! and oft a moment's space,
What time the moon was lost behind a cloud,
Hath heard a pause of silence, till the moon
Emerging, hath awaken'd earth and sky
With one sensation, and these wakeful birds

Have all burst forth in choral minstrelsy,
As if some sudden gale had swept at once
A hundred airy harps !

And she hath watch'd
Many a nightingale perch'd giddily
On blossomy twig still swinging from the breeze,
And to that motion tune his wanton song,
Like tipsy Joy that reels with tossing head.

Farewell, 0 warbler! till to-morrow eve; And you, my friends, farewell—a short farewell! We have been loitering long and pleasantly, And now for our dear homes. That strain again? Full fain it would delay me! My dear babe, Who, capable of no articulate sound, Mars all things with his imitative lisp, How he would place his hand beside his ear, His little hand, the small fore-finger up, And bid us listen! And I deem it wise To make him Nature's playmate. He knows well The evening star; and once, when he awoke In most distressful mood (some inward pain Had made up that strange thing—an infant's

dream), I hurried with him to our orchard's plot, And he beheld the moon; and, hush'd at once, Suspends his sobs, and laughs most silently, While his fair eyes, that swam with undropp'd tears,

Did glitter in the yellow moonbeam! Well !-
It is a father's tale; but if that Heaven
Should give me life, his childhood shall grow up
Familiar with these songs, that with the night
He may associate joy! Once more farewell,
Sweet Nightingale ! Once more, my friends,

farewell!

THE BIRD'S NEST.

But most of all it wins my admiration,
To view the structure of this little work,
A bird's nest. Mark it well, within, without.
No tool had he that wrought, no knife to cut,
No nail to fix, no bodkin to insert,
No glue to join : his little beak was all,
And yet how neatly finish'd. What nice hand,
With every implement and means of art,
And twenty years' apprenticeship to boot,
Could make me such another! Fondly then
We boast of excellence, whose noblest skill
Instinctive genius foils.

« ПретходнаНастави »