Imagini ale paginilor

Then from bis dreamy mood,
A marvel to himself, the poet sprung,
In spiritual might, like one with youth renew'd,

And smote his lyre and sung.

Oh ! as thou wast to him
Touching his spirit with ethereal fire,
Be priestess unto us, and our cold, dim,

And soulless clay inspire !

Alas! it were unjust
To deem thou couldst transmute our iron age :
Man has bow'd down his spirit to the dust, -

Has sold his heritage !

We come forth in the night,
In the pure dews and silvery light of heaven ;
But in our bosoms lies the deadening blight,

The world's corrupting leaven.

Ay, sing, thou rapturous bird;
And though my spirit bear the impress of ill,
Yet, from the holy feeling thou hast stirr'd,
Thy power remaineth still.


Thomas Haywood calls upon the birds to wish his love "good-morrow,"

Pack clouds away and welcome day

With night we banish sorrow;
Sweet air blow soft, mount larks aloft,

To give my love good-morrow !
Wings from the wind, to please her mind,

Notes from the lark I'll borrow; Bird, prune thy wing, nightingale sing.

To give my love good-morrow !

Wake from thy nest, robin-redbreast,

Sing, birds, in every furrow; And from each hill let music shrill

Give my fair love good-morrow ! Blackbird and thrush, in every bush,

Stare, linnet, and cock-sparrow; You pretty elves, among yourselves,

Sing my fair love good-morrow!

[blocks in formation]

But whate'er a bird is,

Whate'er loves—it has delight,
In the joyous song it sings ;

In the liquid air it cleaves;
In the sunshine, in the shower ;

In the nest it weaves.

Do we wake, or do we sleep;

Go our fancies in a crowd
After many a dull care,

Birds are singing loud!
Sing then linnet; sing then wren;

Merle and mavis sing your fill;
And thou, rapturous skylark,

Sing and soar up from the hill !
Sing, 0 nightingale, and pour

Out for us sweet fancies new;
Singing for us, birds;
We will sing of you!

MARY HOWITT. Mr. Main, in the “Magazine of Natural History," observes, that “no bird sings with more method than the lark; there is an overture performed, vivace crescendo, while the singer ascends; when at the full height, the song

becomes moderato, and distinctly divided into short passages, each repeated three or four times over, like a fantasia, in the same key and tune. If there be any wind, he rises perpendicularly by bounds, and afterwards poises himself with breast opposed to it. If calm, he ascends in spiral circles ; in horizontal circles during the principal part of his song, and zigzagly downwards during the performance of the finale. Sometimes, after descending about half-way, he ceases to sing, and drops with the velocity of an arrow to the ground. Those acquainted with the song of the skylark, can tell, without looking at them, whether the birds be ascending or stationary in the air, or on their descent; so different is the style of the song in each case. In the first, there is an expression of ardent impatience; in the second, an andante composure, in which rests of a bar at a time frequently occur; and in the last, a graduated sinking of the strains, often touching the subdominant before the final close. The time and number of the notes often correspond with the vibration of the wings; and though they sometimes sing while on the ground, as they are seen

[blocks in formation]

to do in cages, their whole frame seems to be agitated by their musical efforts."

The strong attachment of this species to their young has been the subject of remark by many naturalists; Mr. Blyth records, that some mowers actually shaved off the upper part of a nest of the skylark without injuring the female, which was sitting on her young; still she did not fly away, and the mowers levelled the grass all round her, without her taking further notice of their proceedings. A young friend of mine, son of the owner of the crop, witnessed this ; and about an hour afterwards went to see if she were safe, when, to his great surprise, he found that she had actually constructed a dome of dry grass over the nest during the interval, leaving an aperture on one side for ingress and egress, thus endeavouring to secure a continuance of the shelter previously supplied by the long grass." Two or three instances are recorded of the skylark moving its eggs under the fear of impending danger; and Mr. Jesse, in the fourth edition of his “ Gleanings,” speaks of the attempted removal of a young bird of this species to a place of safety by its parent, which, however, had not sufficient strength for the purpose, but was obliged to drop the fledgeling from a height of about thirty feet, so that it was killed by the fall.

Yarrell observes, that "skylarks constantly dust themselves, appearing to take great pleasure in the operation, shuffling and rubbing themselves along the ground, setting up their feathers, and, by a peculiar action of the legs and wings, throwing the smaller and looser portion of the soil over every part of their bodies. This is supposed to be done in order to rid themselves of small parasitic insects.” This author also says, " that during the time of producing the eggs, the female has occasionally been heard to sing with a power and variety of tone equal to the voice of her mate. The male skylark, though at other times timid, is, while the female is sitting, bold and pugnacious; driving every other bird away that ventures too near his charge, both watching and feeding her with unceasing solicitude."

The nightingale inhabits Europe from Italy and Spain in the south to Sweden in the north. It is also found in Siberia, and has been seen in some parts of Asia and Africa.

It leaves the temperate countries of Europe as winter approaches, and retires into warmer regions. Sonnini has observed the arrival of nightingales in Lower Egypt during the autumn, has seen them during winter on the fresh and smiling plains of the Delta, and has also witnessed their passage in the islands of the Archipelago. In some parts of Asia Minor the nightingale is common, and never quits the woods in which it has taken up its abode. These birds are found in considerable numbers on the coast of Barbary, where they are always more numerous at the time when they have quite disappeared from the countries of the north. So powerful is the instinct of migration in the nightingale, that those which are kept in captivity usually exhibit much agitation, especially during the night, at the periods when the species migrate. The departure and return of these birds is due not only to the change in the season, but to the abundance or scarcity of their appropriate food.

When passing through countries which are foreign to them, on their route to their winter or summer home, nightingales never sing; it is only during the nesting season, and when they are rearing their young, that those strains are heard which give so much delight. The song of these birds is said to be richer and more varied in some countries than in others. The nightingales of Persia, Karamania and Greece are said to sing better than those of Italy; the Italian birds again are valued above those of France, and the French above the English. Whether this be anything more than a fanciful theory, we have no good means of judging; but the following testimony seems to contradict the idea that situation has much influence on the song

of this bird. “In 1802," says Mr. Symes, “ being at Geneva, at the residence of a friend, about three miles from the town, in a quiet sequestered spot, surrounded by gardens and forests, and within hearing of the murmur of the Rhone, there, on a beautiful still evening, the air soft and balmy, the windows of the house open, and the twilight chequered by trees, there we heard two nightingales sing indeed most delightfully,—but not more so than one we heard down a stair in a dark cellar in the High Street, in Edinburgh ;-such a place as that described in “ The Antiquary !" no window, and no light admitted, but what

« ÎnapoiContinuați »