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SIMILE FBOY " DIVINA COMMEDIA."
Like as the bird who on her nest all night
Had rested, darkling with her tender brood,
Mid the loved foliage, longing now for light,
To gaze on their dear looks, and bring them food :
Sweet task! whose pleasures all its toil repay-
Anticipates the dawn, and through the wood
Ascending, perches on the topmost spray;
There, all impatience, watching to descry
The first faint glimmer of approaching day :
Thus did my lady toward the southern sky,
Erect and motionless, her visage turn;
The mute suspense that filled her wistful eye,
Made me like one who waits a friend's return,
Lives on this hope, and will no other own.
Translation of F. C. Gray.
DANTE ALIGHIERI, 1265–1821.
I have seen a nightingale,
On a sprig of thyme bewail,
Seeing the dear nest, which was
Hers alone, borne off, alas!
By a laborer. I heard,
For this outrage, the poor bird
Say a thousand mournful things
To the wind, which, on its wings,
From her to the guardian of the sky,
Bore her melancholy cry-
Bore her tender tears. She spake
As if her fond heart would break :
One while, in a sad, sweet note,
Gurgled from her straining throat;
She enforced her piteous tale,
Mournful prayer, and plaintive wail;
One while with the shrill dispute,
Quite outwearied, she was mute;
Then afresh for her dear brood,
Her harmonious shrieks renewed.
Now she winged it round and round;
Now she skimmed along the ground;
Now, from bough to bough, in haste,
The delighted robber chased,
And, alighting in his path,
Seemed to say, 'twixt grief and wrath,
“ Give me back, fierce rustic rude-
Give me back my pretty brood !"
And I saw the rustic still
Answered, “ That I never will !"
Translation of T. Roscoe.
ESTEVAN MANUEL DE VILLEGAS, 1595-1669.
Have ye teachers who instruct ye
Checking each ambitious strain-
Learned parrots to conduct ye,
When ye wander back again?
Smiling at my dreams, I see thee,
Nature, in her chainless will,
Did not fetter thee, but free thee-
Pour thy hymns of rapture still!
Plumed in pomp, and pride prodigious,
Lo! the gaudy peacock rears;
But his grating voice so hideous,
Shocks the soul and grates the ears.
Finches may be trained to follow
Notes which dexterous arts combine;
But those notes sound vain and hollow
When compared, sweet bird, with thine.
Classic themes no longer courting
Ancient tongues I'll cast away,
And with nightingales disporting,
Sing the wild and woodland lay!
Loots, a living Dutch Poet.
NEST OF THE NIGHTINGALE.
Up this green woodland side let's softly rove,
And list the nightingale; she dwells just here.
Hush ! let the wood-gate softly clap, for fear
The noise might drive her from her home of love ;
For here I've heard her many a merry year-
At morn, at eve-nay, all the live-long day,
As though she lived on song. This very spot,
Just where the old-man's-beard all wildly trails
Rude arbors o'er the road, and stops the way;
And where the child its blue-bell flowers hath got,
Laughing and creeping through the mossy rails ;
There have I hunted like a very boy,
Creeping on hands and knees through matted thorn,
To find her nest, and see her feed her young,
And vainly did I many hours employ :
All seemed as hidden as a thought unborn;
And where those crumpling fern-leaves ramp among
The hazel’s under-boughs, I've nestled down
And watch'd her while she sang; and her renown
Hath made me marvel that so famed a bird
Should have no better dress than russet brown.
Her wings would tremble in her ecstasy,
And feathers stand on end, as 'twere with joy;
And mouth wide open to release her heart
Of its out-sobbing songs. The happiest part
Of summer's fame she shared, for so to me
Did happy fancy shapen her employ.
But if I touched a bush, or scarcely stirred,
All in a moment stopt. I watched in vain :
The timid bird had left the hazel bush,
And oft in distance hid to sing again.
Lost in a wilderness of listening leaves,
Rich ecstasy would pour its luscious strain,
Till envy spurred the emulating thrush
To start less wild and scarce inferior songs;
For while of half the year care him bereaves,
To damp the ardor of his speckled breast,
The nightingale to summer's life belongs,
And naked trees, and winter's nipping wrongs
Are strangers to her music, and her rest.
Her joys are ever green-her world is wide!
Hark! there she is, as usual; let's be hush;
For in this black-thorn clump, if rightly guessed,
Her curious house is hidden. Part aside
Those hazel branches in a gentle way,
And stoop right cautious ’neath the rustling boughs,
For we will have another search to-day,
And hunt this fern-strewn thorn-clump round and round:
And where this reeded wood-grass idly bows,
We'll wade right through ; it is a likely nook.
In such like spots, and often on the ground
They'll build, where rude boys never think to look.
Ay! as I live! her secret nest is here,
Upon this white-thorn stump!
We will not plunder music of its dower,
Nor turn this spot of happiness to thrall,
For melody seems hid in every flower
That blossoms near thy home. These blue-bells all
Seem bowing with the beautiful in song;
And gaping cuckoo-flower, with spotted leaves,
Seems blushing of the singing it has heard.
How curious is the nest! No other bird
Uses such loose materials, or weaves
Its dwelling in such spots ! Dead oaken leaves
Are placed without, and velvet moss within;
And little scraps of grass, and scant and spare,
What hardly seem materials, down and hair;
For from men's haunts she nothing seems to win.
Sweet bird, that sing'șt away the early hours
Of winters past or coming-void of care,
Well pleased with delights which present are ;
Fair seasons, budding sprays, sweet-smelling flowers ;
To rocks, to springs, to rills, from leafy bowers,
Thou thy Creator's goodness dost declare,
And what dear gifts on thee he did not spare ;
A stain to human sense in sin that lowers.
What soul can be so sick, which by thy songs,
Attir'd in sweetness, sweetly is not driven
Quite to forget earth's turmoils, spites, and wrongs,
And lift a reverent eye and thought to heaven?
WILLIAM DRUMMOND, 1585–16-19.
Hark! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings,
And Phæbus 'gins arise-
His steeds to water at those springs,
On chaliced flowers that lies ;
And winking Mary-buds begin
To ope their golden eyes;
With every thing that pretty bin-
My lady sweet, arise!
FROM THE COMPLETE ANGLER."
At first the lark, when she means to rejoice, to cheer herself and those that hear her, she then quits the earth, and sings as she ascends higher into the air ; and having ended her heavenly employment, grows