Page images
PDF
EPUB

146

PROVIDENCE :---MIGR.ITION OF BIRDS.

they departed, and find nothing but a few feathers, marks of their passage, already dispersed by the wind.

Concordances with the scenes of nature, or reasons of utility to man, determine the different migrations of animals. The birds that appear in the months of storms have dismal voices and savage manners, like the season which brings them; they come not to be heard, but to listen; there is something in the dull roaring of the woods that charms their ears. The trees, which mournfully wave their leafless summits, bear only black legions, which have associated for the winter; they have their sentinels and their advanced guards : frequently a crow, who has seen a hundred winters, the ancient sybil of the deserts, who has survived several generations, remains singly perched on an oak which has grown old with her; there, while all her sisters maintain a profound silence, motionless, and, as it were, full of thought, she delivers prophetic monosyllables, from time to time, to the winds. It is very remarkable that the teal, the duck, the goose, the woodcock, the plover, the lapwing, which serve us for food, all arrive when the earth is bare; while, on the contrary, the foreign birds by which we are visited in the season of fruits, administer only to our pleasures; they are musicians sent to heighten the delights of our banquets. We must, however, except a few, such as the quail and the wood-pigeon, the season for taking which does not commence till after the harvest, and which fatten on our corn, that they may afterwards supply our tables.--Chateaubriand.

HENRY KIRKE WHITE.

BORN, 1785; DIED, 1806. Principal Works.-Clifton Grove, Melancholy Hours, Letters,

Hymns, Poems, and Sonnets.

THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM.
WHEN marshalled on the nightly plain,

The glittering host bestud the sky;
One star alone of all the train,

Can fix the sinner's wandering eye:
Hark! hark! to God the chorus breaks,

From every host, from every gem,
But one alone the Saviour speaks-

It is the star of Bethlehem !
Once on the raging seas I rode;

The storm was loud, the night was dark ;
The ocean yawned, and rudely blowed

The wind that tossed my foundering bark:
Deep horror then my vitals froze,

Death-struck, I ceased the tide to stem;
When suddenly a star arose

It was the star of Bethlelem !
It was my guide, my light, my all,

It bade my dark forebodings cease;
And through the storm, and danger's thrall,

It led me to the port of peace :
Now, safely moored, my perils o'er,

I'll sing, first in night's diadem,
For ever and for evermore-

The starthe star of Bethlehem !

N. P. WILLIS.

WINE.
Look not upon the wine when it

Is red within the cup !
Stay not for Pleasure when she fil's

Her tempting beaker up!
Though clear its depths, and rich its glow,
A spell of madness lurks below.

They say 'tis pleasant on the lip,

And merry on the brain;
They say it stirs the sluggish blood,

And dulls the tooth of pain.
Aye--but within its glowing deeps
A stinging serpent, unseen, sleeps.

Its rosy lights will turn to fire,

Its coolness change to thirst; And by its mirth, within the brain

A sleepless worm is nursed. There's not a bubble at the brim That does not carry food for him.

Then dash the brimming cup aside,

And spill its purple wine: Take not its madness to thy lip

Let not its curse be thine. "Tis red and rich—but grief and woe Are hid those rosy depths below.

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.

EXCELSIOR.*
THE shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,

Excelsior!

His brow was sad; his eye beneath,
Flashed like a faulchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion

rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,

Excelsior!

In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,

Excelsior!

Try not the Pass,” the old man said; “Dark lowers the tempest overhead, The roaring torrent is deep and wide !" And loud that clarion voice replied,

Excelsior!

* Iligher, in the sense of progress heavenward.

150

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.

“O stay,” the maiden said, " and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast !"
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,

Excelsior!

“Beware the pine-tree's withered branch :
Beware the awful avalanche!”
This was the peasant's last Good-night,
A voice replied, far up the height,

Excelsior!

At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air.

Excelsior!

A traveller, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Still grasping, in his hand of ice,
That banner with the strange device,

Excelsior!

There in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell, like a falling star,

Excelsior!

« PreviousContinue »