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Shrinks to hear thy boding cry,
Owl! that lov'st the cloudy sky,
To him it is not harmony.
Miss Scott, of Ancram.
WHEN first the fiery-mantled Sun
His heavenly race began to run,
Round the earth and ocean blue,
His children four (the Seasons) flew:
First in green apparel dancing,
Smiled the Spring with angel face;
Rosy Summer next advancing,
Rushed into her sire's embrace-
Her bright-hair’d sire, who bade her keep
For ever nearest to his smiles-
On Calpe's olive shaded steep,
Or India's citron-cover'd isles, More remote and buxom brown
The queen of vintage bow'd before his throne; A rich pomegranate gemm'd her crown,
A ripe sheaf bound her zone.
But howling Winter fled afar
To hills that prop the polar star,
And loves on deer-borne car to ride,
With barren Darkness by his side,
Round the shore where loud Lofoden
Whirls to death the roaring whale,
Round the pole where Runic Oden
Howls his war-song to the gale:
Save when down the ravag'd globe
He travels on his native storm; Deflowering Nature's grassy robe,
And trampling on her faded form; Till night's returning lord assume
The shaft that drives him to the northern field, Of power to pierce his raven plume,
And crystal-cover'd shield.
O sire of storms! whose savage ear
The Lapland drum delights to hear,
When Phrenzy, with her blood-shot eye,
Implores thy dreadful deity-
Archangel power of desolation,
Fast descending as thou art,
Say, hath mortal invocation
Spells to touch thy stony heart? Then, sullen Winter, hear my prayer,
And gently rule the ruined year; Nor chill the wanderer's bosom bare,
Nor freeze the wretch's falling tear; To shiv'ring Want's unmantled bed
Thy horror-breathing agues cease to lend, And mildly on the orphan head
Of innocence descend !
But chiefly spare, O king of clouds,
The sailor on his airy shrouds-
When wrecks and beacons strew the steep,
And spectres walk along the deep;
Milder yet thy snowy breezes
Breathe on yonder tented shores,
Where the Rhine's bright billow freezes,
Where the dark-brown Danube roars!
O winds of Winter! list ye there
To many a deep and dying groan?
Or start, ye demons of the midnight air,
At shrieks and thunders louder than your own ? Alas! e'en your unhallowed breath
May spare the victim fallen low; But man will ask no truce to death, No bound to human wo.
Lo! where the rosy-bosom’d Hours,
Fair Venus' train, appear,
Diselose the long-expected flowers,
And wake the purple year!
The Attic warbler pours her throat,
Responsive to the cuckow's note,
The untaught harmony of Spring:
While, whispering pleasure as they fly,
Cool Zephyrs through the clear blue sky
Their gather'd fragrance fling.
Where'er the oak's thick branches stretch
A broader, browner shade,
Where'er the rude and moss-grown beech
O’er-canopies the glade,
Beside some water's rushy brink
With me the muse shall sit, and think
(At ease reclin'd in rustic state) How vain the ardour of the crowd, How low, how little are the proud,
How indigent the great!
Still is the toiling hand of Care;
The panting herds repose:
Yet hark, how through the peopled air
The busy murmur glows!
The insect youth are on the wing,
Eager to taste the honey'd spring,
And float amid the liquid noon:
Some lightly o’er the current skim,
Some show their gaily gilded trim
Quick-glancing to the Sun.
To Contemplation's sober eye
Such is the race of man:
And they that creep, and they that fly,
Shall end where they began.
Alike the busy and the gay
But flatter through life's little day,
In fortune’s varying colours dress’d:
Brush'd by the hand of rough Mischance,
Or chilld by age, their airy dance
They leave, in dust to rest.
Methinks I hear, in accents low,
The sportive kind reply:
Poor moralist! and what art thou
A solitary fly!
Thy joys no glitt’ring female meets,
No hive hast thou of hoarded sweets,
No painted plumage to display:
On hasty wings thy youth is flown;
Thy sun is set, thy spring is gone :
We frolic while 'tis May.'
With dalliance rude young Zephyr woos
Coy May: full oft with kind excuse
The boisterous boy the fair denies,
Or with a scornful smile complies.
Mindful of disaster past,
And shrinking at the northern blast,
The sleety storm returning still,
The morning hoar, and evening chill;
Reluctant comes the timid Spring.
Scarce a bee, with airy ring,
Murmurs the blossom'd boughs around,
That clothe the garden's southern bound:
Scarce a sickly straggling flower
Decks the rough castle's rifted tower:
Scarce the hardy primrose peeps
From the dark dell's entangled steeps ;
O'er the field of waving broom
Slowly shoots the golden bloom:
And, but by fits, the furze-clad dale
Tinctures the transitory gale.
While from the shrubbery's naked maze,
Where the vegetable blaze
Of Flora's brightest 'broidery shone,
Every chequer'd charm is flown;
Save that the lilac hangs to view
Its bursting gems in clusters blue.
Scant along the ridgy land
The beans their new-born ranks expand :
The fresh-turn'd soil with tender blades
Thinly the sprouting barley shades: