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"So faint I am, these tottering feet
No more my palsied frame can bear ; My freezing heart forgets to beat,
And drifting snows my tomb prepare. “ Open your hospitable door,
And shield me from the biting blast : Cold, cold it blows across the moor
The weary moor that I have passed !" With hasty steps the farmer ran,
And close beside the fire they place The poor half-frozen beggar-man,
With shaking limbs and pale blue face. The little children flocking came,
And chafed his frozen hands in theirs ;
A comfortable mess prepares.
And slowly down his wrinkled cheek
Which told the thanks he could not speak. The children then began to sigh,
And all their merry chat was o'er ; And yet they felt, they knew not why,
More glad than they had done before.
WANTON droll, whose harmless play Beguiles the rustic's closing day, When drawn the evening fire about, Sit aged crone and thoughtless lout, And child upon his three-foot stool, Waiting till his supper cool ; And maid, whose cheek outblooms the rose, As bright the blazing fagot glowsWho, bending to the friendly light, Plies her task with busy sleight; Come, show thy tricks and sportive graces, Thus circled round with merry faces.
Backward coiled, and crouching low,
Now wheeling round, with bootless skill, Thy bo-peep tail provokes thee still, As oft beyond thy curving side Its jetty tip is seen to glide ; Till, from thy centre starting fair, Thou sidelong rear’st, with rump in air, Erected stiff, and gait awry, Like madam in her tantrums high : Though ne'er a madam of them all, Whose silken kirtle sweeps the hall, More varied trick and whim displays, To catch th' admiring stranger's gaze.
And oft, beneath some urchin's hand, With modest pride, thou tak’st thy stand, While many a stroke of fondness glides Along thy back and tabby sides. Dilated swells thy glossy fur, And loudly sings thy busy pur, As, timing well the equal sound, Thy clutching feet bepat the ground, And all their harmless claws disclose, Like prickles of an early rose ; While softly from thy whiskered cheek Thy half-closed eyes peer mild and meek.
But not alone by cottage fire Do rustics rude thy feats admire : The learned sage, whose thoughts explore The widest range of human lore ;
Or, with unfettered fancy, fly
Whence hast thou, then, thou witless Puss, The magic power to charm us thus ? Is it, that in thy glaring eye And rapid movements we descry, While we at ease, secure from ill, The chimney-corner snugly fill, A lion darting on the prey, A tiger at his ruthless play? Or is it, that in thee we trace, With all thy varied wanton grace, An emblem viewed with kindred eye, Of tricksy, restless infancy?
Ah! many a lightly sportive child,
Nor, when thy span of life is past,
The old Soldier.
The night comes on apace ;