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Its crimson-spotted cups, or chirps half hid
Amid the lowly dogwood's snowy flowers,
And the bluejay flits by, from tree to tree,
And, spreading its rich pinions, fills the ear
With its shrill-sounding and unsteady cry.
With the sweet airs of Spring, the Robin comes,
And in her simple song there seems to gush
A strain of sorrow when she visiteth
Her last year's withered nest. But when the gloom
Of the deep twilight falls, she takes her perch
Upon the red-stemmed hazel's slender twig
That overhangs the brook, and suits her song
To the slow rivulet's inconstant chime.
In the last days of Autumn, when the corn
Lies sweet and yellow in the harvest-field,
And the gay company of reapers bind
The bearded wheat in sheaves—then peals abroad
The blackbird's merry chant. I love to hear,
Bold plunderer, thy mellow burst of song
Float from thy watch-place on the mossy tree
Close at the cornfield edge.
There is much sweetness in thy fitful hymn,
Heard in the drowsy watches of the night.
Oft-times, when all the village-lights are out,
And the wide air is still, I hear thee chant
Thy hollow dirge, like some recluse who takes
His lodging in the wilderness of woods,
And lifts his anthem when the world is still :
And the dim, solemn night, that brings to man
And to the herds deep slumbers, and sweet dew's
To the red roses and the herbs, doth find
No eye, save thine, a watcher in her halls.
I hear thee oft at midnight, when the thrush
And the green, roving linnet are at rest,
And the blithe, twittering swallows have long ceased
Their noisy note, and folded up their wings.
Far up some brook's still course, whose current mines The forest's blackened roots, and whose green marge Is seldom visited by human foot, The lonely heron sits, and harshly breaks The Sabbath silence of the wilderness : And you may find her by some reedy pool, Or brooding gloomily on the time stained-rock, Beside some misty and far-reaching lake.
Most awful is thy deep and heavy boom,
Gray watcher of the waters! Thou art king
Of the blue lake; and all the winged kind
Do fear the echo of thine angry cry.
How bright thy savage eye! Thou lookest down,
And seest the shining fishes as they glide;
And, poising thy gray wing, thy glossy beak
Swift as an arrow strikes its roving prey.
Oft-times I see thee, through the curling mist,
Dart, like a spectre of the night, and hear
Thy strange, bewildering call, like the wild scream
Of one whose life is perishing in the sea.
And now, wouldst thou, O man, delight the ear
With earth's delicious sounds, or charm the eye
With beautiful creations ? Then pass forth,
And find them midst those many-coloured birds
That fill the glowing woods. The richest hues
Lie in their splendid plumage, and their tones
Are sweeter than the music of the lute,
Or the harp's melody, or the notes that gush
So thrillingly from Beauty's ruby lip.
The sultry summer past, September comes, Soft twilight of the slow-declining year;— All mildness, soothing loneliness and peace; The fading season ere the falling come, More sober than the buxom blooming May, And therefore less the favourite of the world, But dearest month of all to pensive minds. 'Tis now far spent; and the meridian sun, Most sweetly smiling with attempered beams, Sheds gently down a mild and grateful warmth Beneath its yellow lustre, groves and woods, Checkered by one night's frost with various hues, While yet no wind has swept a leaf away, Shine doubly rich. It were a sad delight Down the smooth stream to glide, and see it tinged Upon each brink, with all the gorgeous hues, The yellow, red, or purple of the trees, That, singly, or in tufts, or forests thick, Adorn the shores; to see, perhaps, the side Of some high mount reflected far below
With its bright colours, intermixed with spots
Of darker green. Yes, it were sweetly sad
To wander in the open fields, and hear,
E’en at this hour, the noonday hardly past,
'The lulling insects of the summer's night;
To hear, where lately buzzing swarms were heard,
A lonely bee long roving here and there
To find a single flower, but all in vain;
Then, rising quick, and with a louder hum,
In widening circles round and round his head,
Straight by the listener flying clear away,
As if to bid the fields a last adieu;
To hear, within the woodland's sunny side,
Late full of music, nothing, save, perhaps,
The sound of nutshells, by the squirrel dropped
From some tall beech, fast falling through the leaves.