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“Hear your sovereign's proclamation,
All good subjects, young and old ! I'm the lord of the creation;
I-a water-wagtail bold !
All around, and all you see,
All the world was made for ME!
“ Yonder sun, so proudly shining,
Rises—when I leave my nest; And, behind the hills declining,
Sets—when I retire to rest : Morn and evening, thus you see, Day and night, were made for ME! " Vernal gales to love invite me;
Summer sheds, for me, her beams; Autumn's jovial scenes delight me;
Winter paves with ice my streams:
All the year is mine, you see;
Seasons change, like moons, for ME !
“On the heads of giant mountains,
Or beneath the shady trees;
By the banks of warbling fountains,
I enjoy myself at ease:
Hills and valleys, thus you see,
Groves and rivers, made for ME!
“ Boundless are my vast dominions;
I can hop, or swim, or fly; When I please, my towering pinions
Trace my empire through the sky: Air and elements, you see, Heaven and earth, were made for ME! “ Birds and insects, beasts and fishes,
All their humble distance keep; Man, subservient to my wishes,
Sows the harvest, which I reap: Mighty man himself, you see, All that breathe, were made for ME! “'T was for my accommodation
Nature rose when I was born; Should I die- the whole creation Back to nothing would return:
Sun, moon, stars, the world, you see,
Sprung-exist–will fall with ME!"
Here the pretty prattler ending,
Spread his wings to soar away;
But a cruel hawk, descending,
Pounced him up-a helpless prey!
Couldst thou not, poor wagtail ! see,
That the hawk was made for THEE ?
THE PLEASURES OF IMPRISONMENT:
IN TWO EPISTLES TO A FRIEND,
You ask, my friend, and well you may,
You ask me how I spend the day;
I'll tell you, in unstudied rhyme,
How wisely I befool my time:
Expect not wit nor fancy, then,
In this effusion of my pen;
These idle lines—they might be worse-
Are simple prose in simple verse.
Each morning, then, at five o'clock,
The adamantine doors unlock;
Bolts, bars, and portals crash and thunder-
The gates of iron burst asunder;
Hinges that creak, and keys that jingle,
With clattering chains, in concert mingle:
So sweet the din, your dainty ear,
For joy, would break its drum to hear;
While my dull organs, at the sound,
Rest in tranquillity profound:
Fantastic dreams amuse my brain,
And waft my spirit home again:
Though captive all day long, 't is true,
At night I am as free as you ;
Not ramparts high, nor dungeons deep,
Can hold me when I'm fast asleep!
But everything is good in season:
I dream at large-and wake in prison,
Yet think not, sir, I lie too late;
I rise as early even as eight;
Ten hours of drowsiness are plenty,
For any man, in four and twenty.
You smile—and yet 't is nobly done;
I'm but five hours behind the sun!
When dressed, I to the yard repair,
And breakfast on the pure, fresh air;
But though this choice Castalian cheer
Keeps both the head and stomach clear,
For reasons strong enough with me,
I mend the meal with toast and tea.
Now air and fame, as poets sing,
Are both the same, the selfsame thing;
Yet bards are not chameleons quite,
And heavenly food is very light;
Who ever dined or supped on fame,
And went to bed upon a name?
Breakfast dispatched, I sometimes read,
To clear the vapours from my head;
For books are magic charms, I ween,
Both for the crotchets and the spleen.
When genius, wisdom, wit abound,
Where sound is sense, and sense is sound;
When art and Nature both combine,
And live and breathe in every line;
The reader glows along the page
With all the author's native rage !
But books there are with nothing fraught,
Ten thousand words, and ne'er a thought;
Where periods without period crawl,
Like caterpillars on a wall,
That fall to climb, and climb to fall;
While still their efforts only tend
To keep them from their journey's end.
The readers yawn with pure vexation,
And nod-but not with approbation.
In such a fog of dulness lost,
Poor Patience must give up the ghost;
Not Argus' eyes awake could keep-
Even Death might read himself to sleep!
At half-past ten, or thereabout,
My eyes are all upon the scout,
To see the lounging postboy come,
With letters or with news from home.
Believe it, on a captive's word,
Although the doctrine seem absurd,
messengers of friends For absence almost make amends; But if you think I jest or lie, Come to York Castle, sir, and try.
Sometimes to Fairyland I rove :
Those iron rails become a grove ;
These stately buildings fall away
To moss-grown cottages of clay ;
Debtors are changed to jolly swains,
Who pipe and whistle on the plains ;
Yon felons grim, with fetters bound,
Are satyrs wild, with garlands crowned ;
Their clanking chains are wreaths of flowers,
Their horrid cells ambrosial bowers;
The oaths expiring on their tongues
Are metamorphosed into songs ;
While wretched female prisoners, lo !
Are Dian's nymphs of virgin snow.
Those hideous walls with verdure shoot;
These pillars bend with blushing fruit;
That dunghill swells into a mountain;
The pump becomes a purling fountain ;
The noisome smoke of yonder mills
The circling air with fragrance fills ;
This horse-pond spreads into a lake,
And swans of ducks and geese I make;
Sparrows are changed to turtle-doves,
That bill and coo their pretty loves ;
Wagtails, turned thrushes, charm the vales,
And tomtits sing like nightingales;
No more the wind through keyholes whistles,
But sighs on beds of pinks and thistles ;
The rattling rain, that beats without,
And gurgles down the leaden spout,
In light, delicious dew distils,
And melts away in amber rills;
Elysium rises on the green,
And health and beauty crown the scene.
Then by the enchantress Fancy led,
On violet banks I lay my head ;
Legions of radiant forms arise
In fair array before mine eyes ;
Poetic visions gild my brain,
And melt in liquid air again !
As in a magic-lantern clear
Fantastic images appear,
That beaming from the spectred glass,
In beautiful succession pass,
Yet steal the lustre of their light
From the deep shadow of the night :
Thus, in the darkness of my head,
Ten thousand ing hings are bred,
That borrow splendour from the gloom,
As glow-worms twinkle in a tomb.
But lest these glories should confound me,
Kind Dulness draws her curtain round me ;
The visions vanish in a trice,
And I awake as cold as ice :
Nothing remains of all the vapour
Save—what I send you—ink and paper.
Thus flow my morning hours along,
Smooth as the numbers of my song :
Yet let me wander as I will,
I feel I am a prisoner still.
Thus Robin, with the blushing breast,
Is ravished from his little nest
By barbarous boys, who bind his leg,
To make him futter round a peg :
See, the glad captive spreads his wings,
Mounts, in a moment, mounts and sings,
When suddenly the cruel chain
Twitches him back to earth again.
The clock strikes one-I can't delay,
For dinner comes but once a day.
At present, worthy friend, farewell ;
But by to-morrow's post I'll tell
How during these half-dozen moons
I cheat the lazy afternoons.
IN this sweet place where freedom reigns,
Secured by bolts and snug in chains;
Where innocence and guilt together
Roost like two turtles of a feather ;
Where debtors safe at anchor lie,
From saucy duns and bailiffs sly;
Where highwaymen and robbers stout
Would, rather than break in, break out;