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To the Cuckoo.
O BLITHE New-comer! I have heard,
I hear thee, and rejoice.
O cuckoo ! shall I call thee Bird,
Or but a wandering Voice ?
While I am lying on the grass
Thy twofold shout I hear,
From hill to hill it seems to pass,
At once far off, and near.
Though babbling only to the vale
Of sunshine and of flowers, Thou bringest unto me a tale
Of visionary hours.
Thrice welcome, darling of the spring!
Even yet thou art to me
No bird, but an invisible thing,
A voice, a mystery;
The same whom in my school-boy days
I listen'd to; that cry
Which made me look a thousand ways
In bush, and tree, and sky.
To seek thee often did I rove
Through woods and on the green ; And thou wert still a hope, a love
Still long'd for, never seen.
And I can listen to thee yet;
Can lie upon the plain And listen, till I do beget
That golden time again.
O blessed bird ! the earth we pace
Again appears to be
An unsubstantial faëry place,
That is fit home for thee.
A THOUSAND miles from land are we,
Tossing about on the roaring sea ;
From billow to bounding billow cast,
Like fleecy snow on the stormy blast:
The sails are scatter'd abroad, like weeds ;
The strong masts shake, like quivering reeds ;
The mighty cables, and iron chains,
The hull, which all earthly strength disdains,
They strain and they crack, and hearts of stone,
Their natural hard proud strength disown.
Up and down! up and down!
From the base of the wave to the billow's crown,
Amidst the flashing and feathery foam,
The Stormy Petrel finds a home,
A home-if such a place may be
For her who lives on the wide wide sea,
On the craggy ice, in the frozen air,
And only seeking her rocky lair
To warm her young, and to teach them to spring
At once o'er the waves on their stormy wing !
O'er the Deep! O'er the Deep!
Where the whale, and the shark, and the sword-fish
Outflying the blast and the driving rain,
The Petrel telleth her tale--in vain;
For the mariner curseth the warning bird,
Who bringeth him news of the storm unheard !
-Ah! thus does the prophet, of good or ill,
Meet hate from the creatures he serveth stil :
Yet he never falters-So, Petrel ! spring
Once more o'er the waves on thy stormy wing!
The Green Linnet.
BENEATH these fruit-tree boughs that shed
Their snow-white blossoms on my head,
With brightest sunshine round me spread
Of spring's unclonded weather:
In this sequester'd nook how sweet
To sit upon my orchard-seat !
And birds and flowers once more to greet.
My last year's friends together.
One have I mark'd, the happiest guest
In all this covert of the blest:
Hail to thee, far above the rest
In joy of voice and pinion !
Thou, Linnet! in thy green array,
Presiding Spirit here to-day,
Dost lead the revels of the May;
And this is thy dominion.
While birds, and butterflies, and flowers,
Make all one band of paramours,
Thou, ranging up and down the bowers,
Art sole in thy employment:
A Life, a Presence like the Air,
Scattering thy gladness without care,
Too blest with any one to pair;
Thyself thy own enjoyment.
Amid yon tuft of hazel-trees,
That twinkle to the gusty breeze,
Behold him perch'd in ecstasies,
Yet seeming still to hover;
There! where the flutter of his wings
Upon his back and body flings
Shadows and sunny glimmerings,
That cover him all over.
My dazzled sight he oft deceives,
A brother of the dancing leaves ;
Then flits, and from the cottage eaves
Pours forth his song in gushes ;
As if by that exulting strain
He mock'd and treated with disdain
The voiceless form he chose to feign,
While fluttering in the bushes.
With the sweet airs of spring the Robin comes ;
And in her simple song there seems to gush
A strain of sorrow when she visitet
Her last year's wither'd nest. But when the gloom
Of the deep twilight falls, she takes her perch
Upon the red-stemm'd 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 corn-field edge.
Most glorious orb! that wert a worship, ere
The mystery of thy making was reveald!
Thou earliest minister of the Almighty,
Which gladden'd, on their mountain tops, the hearts
Of the Chaldean shepherds, till they pour'd
Themselves in orisons ! Thou material god !
And representative of th' Unknown-
Who chose thee for his shadow. Thou chief star!
Centre of many stars ! which mak’st our earth
Endurable, and temperest the hues
And hearts of all who walk within thy rays!
Sire of the seasons ! Monarch of the climes,
And those who dwell in them ! for near or far
Our inborn spirits have a tint of thee,
Even as our outward aspects ;—thou dost rise,
And shine, and set in glory. Fare thee well!
I ne'er shall see thee more.
The Setting Sun. LOOK yonder, with delighted heart and eye, On those low cottages that shine so bright (Each with its garden plot of smiling green), Robed in the glory of the setting sun ! But he is parting-fading-day is overYonder he hastens to diffuse new life. Oh, for a wing to raise me up from earth, Nearer, and yet more near, to the bright orb, That unrestrain'd I still might follow him ! Then should I see, in one unvarying glow Of deathless evening, the reposing world Beneath me--the hills kindling—the sweet vales, Beyond the hills, asleep in the soft beams; The silver streamlet, at the silent touch Of heavenly light, transfigured into gold, Flowing in brightness inexpressible! Nothing to stop or stay my
odlike motion ! The rugged hill, with its wild cliffs, in vain Would rise to hide the sun ; in vain would strive To check my glorious course ; the sea already, With its illumined bays, that burn beneath The lord of day, before the astonished eyes Opens its bosom-and he seems at last Just sinking-No—a power unfelt beforeAn impulse indescribable, succeeds! Onward, entranced, I haste to drink the beams Of the unfading light-before me dayAnd night left still behind-and overhead Wide heaven-and under me the spreading sea ! A glorious vision, while the setting sun Is lingering! Oh, to the spirit's flight, How faint and feeble are material wings! Yet such our nature is, that when the lark, High over us, unseen, in the blue sky Thrills his heart-piercing song, we feel ourselves Press up from earth, as 'twere in rivalry,– And when above the savage hill of pines, The eagle sweeps with outspread wings, -and when The crane pursues, high off, his homeward path,
Flying o'er watery moors and wide lakes lonely! Translated from Goethe.