Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

PART II.

a

However high the skylark soars, he never loses sight of home, and never stays away long. He generally descends leisurely, but rather more rapidly than he rose; and he continues to pour out his song as he comes down to rejoin his mate, till he reaches a certain distance above the ground, where for a moment he remains suspended over the

spot he so well knows; then, folding his wings, the notes cease, and the vocalist drops like a stone close to the nest. Wordsworth speaks of this, and draws a moral from the life of the bird, in the following beautiful lines :

Ethereal minstrel! pilgrim of the sky!

Dost thou despise the earth, where cares abound ?
Or, while thy wings aspire, are heart and eye

Both with thy nest, upon the dewy ground?
Thy nest, which thou canst drop into at will,
Those quivering wings composed, that music still.
To the last point of vision, and beyond,

Mount, daring warbler! that love-prompted strain,
('Twixt thee and thine a never-failing bond)

Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain !
Yet might'st thou seem, proud privilege, to sing
All independent of the leafy spring.
Leave to the Nightingale the shady wood-

A privacy of glorious light is thine,
Whence thou dost pour upon the world a flood

Of harmony, with rapture more divine.
Type of the wise, who soar, but never roam,

True to the kindred points of heaven and home.
Mrs. Hemans, too, has written in a similar strain :-

Oh! Skylark, for thy wing!

Thou bird of joy and light,
That I might soar and sing

At heaven's empyreal height!
With the heathery hills beneath me,

Whence the streams in glory spring,
And the pearly clouds to wreathe me,

O Skylark! on thy wing!
Free, free from earth-born fear,

I would range the blessed skies,
Through the blue divinely clear,

Where the low mists cannot rise !

a

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

And a thousand joyous measures

From my chainless heart should spring,
Like the bright rain's vernal treasures,

As I wander'd on thy wing.
But oh! the silver cords

That around the heart are spun,
From gentle tones and words,

And kind eyes that make our sun!
To some low, sweet nest returning,

How soon my love would bring
There, there, the dews of morning,

O Skylark! on thy wing!

[ocr errors]

The skylark always builds on the ground in cornfields and meadows. The nest is composed of vegetable stalks, lined with fine hay and hair, the latter generally white. It is often placed in a little hollow of the ground or next a stone, to screen the inmates from the cold, and in any case it is built so as to have the full benefit of the sun's heat and light. The bird is said sometimes to mine and drain the locality chosen. The skylark,' says the ‘ British Naturalist,' selects her ground with care, avoiding clayey places, unless she can find two clods so placed as that no part of a nest between them would be below the surface. In more friable soil she scrapes till she has not only formed a little cavity, but loosened the bottom of it to some depth. Over this the first layers are placed very loosely, so that if any rain should get in at the top, it may sink to the bottom, and there be absorbed by the soil.'

The poet Grahame has the following description of the skylark's nest, which is pretty accurate :

The daisied lea he loves, where tufts of grass
Luxuriant crown the ridge; there, with his mate,
He founds their lowly house, of withered bents
And coarsest speargrass; next, the inner work
With finer, and still finer fibres lays,

Rounding it curious with his speckled breast.' Another of our writers, Walter Thornbury, draws a lesson of humility from the lowly abode of the skylark.

He says:

Three foot in the pleasant corn,

Full three foot in the corn,
The lark has sought his nest at night,

To shelter in till morn.
Yes, deep below the sun and wind,

To where the field-mouse dwells,
Below, where the poppy showy burns

In waving nooks and dells.
Down far below the sparrow-hawk,

Safe hidden from the stoat,
The noisy young between the stalk

All clamour in one note.
The eagle seeks the snow Alp-top

Proud in his royal birth,
But the humble lark, safe and content,

Couches upon the earth.

In England the skylark delights in open meadows and arable lands; but in Scotland and Ireland its favourite dwelling-place is the wild mountain moorland. So that James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, did not err in the following beautiful lay, describing the bird as belonging to the uncultivated country, or, as it is termed, the wilderness :

Bird of the wilderness,

Blithesome and cumberless,
Sweet be thy matin o'er moorland and lea!

Emblem of happiness,

Blest is thy dwelling-place-
Oh, to abide in the desert with thee !

Wild is thy lay, and loud,

Far in the downy cloud;
Love gives it energy, love gave it birth.

Where, on thy dewy wing,

Where art thou journeying?
Thy lay is in heaven, thy love is on earth.

O'er fell and fountain sheen,

O’er moor and mountain green,
O'er the red streamer that heralds the day,

Over the cloudlet dim,

Over the rainbow's rim,
Musical cherub, soar, singing away!

THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB.

73

Then, when the gloaming comes

Low in the heather blooms,
Sweet will thy welcome and bed of love be!

Emblem of happiness,

Blest is thy dwelling-place

Oh, to abide in the desert with thee!' In the birdsellers' shops of London and other large towns, larks are very common during the proper season, when generally they may be purchased for a trifling amount. A first-rate singer, however, will command a high price; and large sums have often been rejected for a pet bird by its owner.

A naturalist tells us of a poor chandler in Belfast who refused to part with his favourite songster for five guineas, ten guineas, and even a cow, successively offered by a gentleman for it.

Although the skylark's song in captivity is undoubtedly very sweet, especially when the bird is well looked after, yet most lovers of nature will prefer seeing this songster free on the wing. If possible, see it thus in the early morning; and then say with Thomson

Feather'd lyric, warbling high,
Sweetly gaining on the sky,
Op'ning with thy matin lay
(Nature's hymn) the eye of day;
Teach my soul, on early wing,
Thus to soar and thus to sing.
While the bloom of orient light
Gilds thee in thy tuneful flight,
May the day-spring from on high,
Seen by faith's religious eye,
Cheer me with his vital ray,
Promise of eternal day.

THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB.

THE Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen :
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay wither'd and strown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he pass'd;
And the eyes of the sleepers wax'd deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still !
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there roll'd not the breath of his pride:
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord !

Byron.

[blocks in formation]
« ZurückWeiter »