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What shall I call thee-bird, or beast, or neither?
- Just what you will,- I’m rather both than either ;
Much like the season when I whirl my flight,
The dusk of evening-neither day nor night.
Canst thou remember that unlucky day,
When all thy Peacock's plumes were plucked away?
--Remember it?-believe me, that I can,
With right good reason, I was then a man!
And for my folly, by a wise old law,
Stript, whipt, tarred, feathered, turned into a Daw:
Pray, how d’ye like my answer?-Caw, caw, caw !
Blue-eyed, strange-voiced, sharp-beaked, ill-omened fowl,
What art thou ?
-What I ought to be-an Owl:
But if I'm such a scarecrow in your eye,
You're a much greater fright in mine,- -good bye!
What means that riot in
Be honest, peaceable, like brethren dwell.
-How, while we live so near to man, can life
Be anything but knavery, noise, and strife?
Peacock, of idle beauty why so vain ?
- And art thou humble, who hast no fine train ?
It is not vanity, but Nature's part,
To show, by me, the cunning of her art.
Thou hast a crested poll, and 'scutcheoned wing,
Fit for a herald of the Eagle king,
But such a voice! I would that thou couldst sing.
- My bill has rougher work-to scream with fright; And tlien, when screaming will not do, to fight.
Sing me, fair Swan, that song which poets dream!
-Stand' thou a hundred years beside this stream; Then may'st thou hear, perchance, my latest breath “Create a soul beneath the ribs of death."*
Pheasant, forsake the country, come to town;
I'll warrant thee a place beneath the crown.
—No, not to roost upon the throne, would I
Renounce the woods, the mountains, and the sky.
Thin is thy plumage, death is in thy croak;
Raven, come down from that majestic oak.
-When I was hatched, my father set this tree,
An acorn then; its fall I hope to see,
A century after thou hast ceased to be.
Camest thou from India, Popinjay, and why?
– To make thy children open ear and eye,
Gaze on my plumage, wonder at my talk,
And think it shame I was not taught to walk.
Magpie, thou too hast learned, by rote, to speak Words without meaning, through thy uncouth beak. -Words have I learned ?—and without meaning too? Mark well,—my masters taught me all they knew.
Art thou a sound, and nothing but a sound ?
-Go round the field, and round the field, and round, You find my voice for ever changing ground; And, while your ear pursues my creaking cry, You look as if you heard me with your eye.
Stork, why were human virtues given to thee?
-That human beings might resemble me;
Kind to my offspring, to my partner true,
And duteous to my parents,- what are you ?
Rap, rap, rap, rap! I hear thy knocking bill,
Then thy strange outcry, when the woods are still.
- Thus am I ever labouring for my bread,
And thus give thanks to find my table spread.
The American Mocking-Bird.
How many voices of the woods are thine ?
-All that I hear, my skill can make them mine:
New notes I learn, as boys outlandish words,
And am, in song, the polyglot of birds.
A life at every meal, rapacious Hawk?
Spare helpless innocence.
- Troth, pleasant talk!
Yon Sparrow snaps more lives up in a day
Than in a twelvemonth I could take away;
But hark! most gentle censor, in your ear,
A word, a whisper:-you-are yoii quite clear?
Creation's groans, through ocean, earth, and sky,
Ascend from all that walk, or swim, or fly.
Vultures. Abominable Harpies ! spare the dead.
-We only clear the field which man hath spread: On whon should Heaven its hottest vengeance rain ? You slay the living, we but strip the slain.
Stock-still upon that stone, from day to day,
I see thee watch the river for thy prey.
-Yes, I'm the tyrant there; but when I rise,
The well-trained Falcon braves me in the skies;
Then comes the tug of war, of strength and skill;
He dies, impaled on my up-darted bill;
Or, powerless in his grasp, my doom I meet;
Dropt, as a trophy, at his master's feet.
Art thou the king of birds, proud Eagle, say?
-I am; my talons and my beak bear sway.
A greater king than I, if thou wouldst be,
Govern thy tongue, but let thy thoughts be free.
The Humming-Bird. Art thou a bird, or bee, or butterfly? -Each, and all three:- :--a bird in shape am I ; A bee, collecting sweets from bloom to bloom; A butterfly in brilliancy of plume.
The Bird of Paradise.
Hail, Bird of Paradise !
-That name I bear,
Though I am nothing but a bird of air:
Thou art a child of earth, and yet to thee,
Lost and recovered, Paradise is free:
Oh that such glory were vouchsafed to me !
Hast thou expelled the mother from thy breast,
And to the desert's mercies left thy nest ?
-Ah! no; the mother in me knows her part:
Yon glorious sun is warmer than my heart;
And when to life he brings my hungry brood,
He spreads for them the wilderness with food.
A VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD.
EMBLEM of eternity,
Unbeginning, endless sea !
Let me launch my soul on thee.
Sail, nor keel, nor helm, nor oar,
Need I, ask I, to explore
Thine expanse from shore to shore.
By a single glance of thought,
Thy whole realm's before me brought,
Like the universe, from nought.
All thine aspects now I view,
Ever old, yet ever new,
—Time nor tide thy power subdue.
All thy voices now I hear;
Sounds of gladness, grandeur, fear,
Meet and mingle in mine ear.
All thy wonders are revealed,
Treasures hidden in thy field,
From the birth of Nature sealed.
Eager fancy, unconfined,
In a voyage of the mind,
Sweeps along thee like the wind.
Here a breeze, I skim thy plain;
There a tempest, pour amain
Thunder, lightning, hail, and rain.
Where the surges never roll
Round the undiscovered pole,
Thence set out, my venturous soul !
See o'er Greenland, cold and wild,
Rocks of ice eternal piled,
-Yet the mother loves her child.
Next on lonely Labrador
Let me hear the snow-storms roar,
Blinding, burying all before.