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The hedger pauses, ere he knocks
The stake down in the meadow gap;
The boy, who every songster mocks,
Forbears the gate to clap;
When, in the hedge that hides the post,
Thy ruddy bosom he surveys,
Pleas'd with thy song, in transport lost,
He, pausing, mutters scraps of praise.
The maiden marks, at day's decline,
Thee in the yard, on broken plough,
And stops her song to list to thine,
Milking the brindled cow.
Thy simple faith, in man's esteem,
From every heart hath favour won :
Dangers to thee no dangers seem,
Thou seem'st to count them more than shun. The clown in winter takes his gun,
The barn-door-flocking birds to slay
But should'st thou in the danger run,
He turns the tube away.
Upon the ditcher's spade thou'lt hop,
For grubs and writhing worms to search; Where woodmen in the forest chop,
Thou❜lt fearless on their faggots perch: Nay, by the gipsies' camp I stop,
And mark thee perch a moment there, To prune thy wing awhile, then drop The scattered crumbs to share.
The loneliest wood that man can trace,
To thee a pleasant dwelling gives;
In every town and crowded place
The tame domestic robin lives:
Go where we will, in every spot
Thy little welcome tribes appear,
And, like the daisy's common lot,
Thou 'rt met with every where.
The swallow in the chimney tier,
The twittering martin in the eave,
With half of love, and half of fear
Their mortar'd dwellings shyly weave;
The sparrows in the thatch will shield,
Yet they, as well as e'er they can,
Contrive with doubtful faith to build
Beyond the reach of man.
But thou'rt less timid then the wren,
Domestic and confiding bird!
And spots most near the haunts of men
Are oftenest for thy home preferr❜d:
In garden wall thou'lt build so low,
Hid where a branch of fennel stands,
That even a child just taught to go
May reach thee with its hands.
Dear favourite bird! thy under notes
In spring's gay music mix unknown;
The concert from a thousand throats
Leaves thee as if to pipe alone.
No listening ear the shepherd lends,
The simple ploughman marks thee not,
And then by all thy autumn friends
Thou'rt missing and forgot.
'Tis wrong that thou should'st be despis'd,
When larks and linnets carol clear;
They sing when vernal flowers are priz'd,
Thou, in the dull declining year.
Ah! could I in my rustic rhyme
But imitate thy touching lay,
All gentle hearts would love its chime,
Nor cast my meanest verse away!
And aye, in Autumn's mellow clime
Our mutual praise they would proclaim,
And we should share, till latest time,
An undivided fame.
THE COMPLAINTS OF THE POOR.
AND wherefore do the Poor complain?
The Rich man ask'd of me;
Come, walk abroad with me, I said,
And I will answer thee.
'Twas evening, and the frozen streets
Were cheerless to behold;
And we were wrapt and coated well,
And yet we were a-cold.
We met an old bare-headed man,
His locks were few and white;
I ask'd him what he did abroad
In that cold winter's night.
The cold was keen indeed, he said,
But at home no fire had he,
And therefore he had come abroad
To ask for charity.
We met a young bare-footed child,
And she begg'd loud and bold;
I ask'd her what she did abroad
When the wind it blew so cold.
She said her father was at home,
And he lay sick a-bed,
And therefore was it she was sent
Abroad to beg for bread.
We saw a woman sitting down
Upon a stone to rest,
She had a baby at her back,
And another at her breast.
I ask'd her why she loiter'd there
When the night-wind was so chill;
She turn'd her head, and bade the child
That scream'd behind, be still;
Then told us that her husband serv'd,
A soldier, far away,
And therefore to her parish she
Was begging back her way.
I turn'd me to the Rich man then,
For silently stood he,
You ask'd me why the Poor complain,
And these have answer'd thee!
I HEAR thee speak of a better land;
Thou call'st its children a happy band;
Mother! oh, where is that radiant shore-
Shall we not seek it, and weep no more?
Is it where the flower of the orange blows,
And the fire-flies dance through the myrtle boughs?
"Not there, not there, my child."
Is it where the feathery palm-trees rise,
And the date grows ripe under sunny skies?
Or 'midst the green islands of glittering seas,
Where fragrant forests perfume the breeze,
And strange bright birds, on their starry wings,
Bear the rich hues of all glorious things?
"Not there, not there, my child.”
Is it far away, in some region old,
Where the rivers wander o'er sands of gold-
Where the burning rays of the ruby shine,
And the diamond lights up the secret mine,
And the pearl gleams forth from the coral strand
Is it there, sweet mother! that better land?
"Not there, not there, my child.”
"Eye hath not seen it, my gentle boy!
Ear hath not heard its deep songs of joy ;
Dreams cannot picture a world so fair;
Sorrow and death may not enter there;
Time doth not breathe on its fadeless bloom;
Beyond the clouds, and beyond the tomb
It is there, it is there, my child!"
FOUND IN A TRAP WHERE HE HAD BEEN CONFINED ALL NIGHT.
O! HEAR a pensive prisoner's prayer,
For liberty that sighs;
And never let thine heart be shut
Against the wretch's cries.