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Recreations for Solitary Hours

Reflections Over a Lark's Nest

page 17

Reflections Over a Lark's Nest.

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 diamond's 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 chanting 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 by breast,
And look'd around with careful scanning eye,
Where rose the lark. Now there do I descry
Her humble habitation, low, beside
page 18 A tuft of grass. Four 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
A stranger's voice. Then why should I 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, for 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,
page 19 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 greatest care,
That are, as yet, of Natures 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 can 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! How 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
To fam'lies where wild mut'ny, much deplored,
Oft sows its dire, death-working seeds of strife,
Corroding still the sweets of social life,
With discontent and jealousy. Expel!
Such fiendish feelings which torment the soul.
Here innocence, and sociality
page 20 Are in this brood pourtrayed, as there they lie
In meek contentment. Truely they excite,
To sympathetic feelings of delight!