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New Zealand Minstrelsy

Reflections over a Lark’s Nest

“New Zealand Minstrelsy”: Appendix, page i.

Reflections over a Lark’s Nest.

Written at an early age.

As o’er a field I strolling paced my way,
With careless step, and dash’d from ev’ry spray
The glist’ning dew, which thick like diamonds hung,—
Then from her nest a lark affrighten’d sprung
At my approach,—and chirping, seemed to say;—
“Refrain thy footsteps, vagrant stranger—stay
Thy hand from mischief on my tender young;
Poor innocents! oh, do not thou them wrong;
Oh, spare them! they are all my only care;
And let them in thy love and favour share;
That I from helpless infancy may rear
Them to maturity. Yet they may cheer
Thee in thy walks, when chaunting choicest lays,—
Or teach mankind to sing his Maker’s praise!”

My pace I check’d at this the lark’s request,
Which fraught with softest sympathy my breast;
PerceptionI look’d around with careful scanning eye,
Where rose the lark. Now, there, do I descry,
Her humble habitation, low, beside
A tuft of grass. Family; SocietyFour mouths now open wide,
As asking for an alms, as I draw near
To see the nest, and tender hatch so dear
And precious to their dam. They feel mista’en,
Their mouths they shut, and huddle down again:—
So young—their eyes yet seal’d—they’ve not discern’d
Me from their mother; yet they have not learn’d
page ii“New Zealand Minstrelsy”: Appendix, page ii. A stranger’s voice. Then why should 1 extort
Myself from all humanity to hurt
Such poor defenceless creatures? Or purloin
Them from a parent’s care? Or e’er destine
Them to an unjust death?—To treat them ill
I never can,—as I’ve detested still
Such cruel deeds. But to the mother’s pray’r,
I’ll lend a willing ear. Family; Home; NatureFor, see! what care
She has bestow’d upon her little brood
to make them happy. Lo! how well is made
Her small, neat, grounded nest. Were we to scan
Its structure with minuteness, and the plan,
In which it is so carefully contrived,
Then would we ask, From whom has she derived,
Such art and knowledge? Was it e’er from man?
Or was she taught by any artizan
To build her nest? No! Nature is her guide,
From whom she wisdom learns,—how to provide
For this her progeny. And what’s designed,
Is neatly done! How softly it is lined,
For comfort to her young, her only care,
That are, as yet, of Nature’s clothing bare.
And, lo! the outward bulwarks of its form,
How well ’tis built ’gainst the usurping worm,
To save her eggs, and tender brood from harm.
What wisdom’s this? What mother could do more!
To shield her infant charge, Sing, ye that soar
Aloft! With loudest carols make the air
Resound, to cheer your mates in their domestic care.

How interesting! Family; SocietyHow agreeable
Is their behaviour! Discord ne’er can dwell
Within this habitation. There they lie
Together hugged in social harmony.
Lo! what a grand example these afford
page iii“New Zealand Minstrelsy”: Appendix, page iii. To fam’lies where wild mut’ny, much deplored,
Oft sows its dire, death-working seeds of strife,
Carroding still the sweets of social life,
With discontent and jealousy. Expel
Such fiendish feelings which torment the soul.
Here innocence and sociality
Are in this brood pourtray’d, as there they lie
In meek contentment. JoyTruly they excite,
To sympathetic feelings of delight!