« PreviousContinue »
Awaken'd by the shock (cried Puss)
"Was ever cat attended thus?
The open drawer was left, I see,
Merely to prove a nest for me,
For soon as I was well composed,
Then came the maid, and it was closed.
How smooth these 'kerchiefs, and how sweet!
O what a delicate retreat!
I will resign myself to rest
Till Sol, declining in the west,
Shall call to supper, when, no doubt,
Susan will come and let me out."
The evening came, the sun descended,
And Puss remain'd still unattended.
The night roll'd tardily away,
(With her indeed 'twas never day,)
The sprightly morn her course renew'd,
The evening grey again ensued,
And puss came into mind no more
Than if entomb'd the day before.
With hunger pinch'd, and pinch'd for room,
She now presaged approaching doom,
Nor slept a wink or purr'd,
Conscious of jeopardy incurr'd.
That night, by chance, the poet watching, Heard an inexplicable scratching;
His noble heart went pit-a-pat,
And to himself he said-"What's that ?"
He drew the curtain at his side,
And forth he peep'd, but nothing spied.
Yet, by his ear directed, guess'd
Something imprison'd in the chest,
And doubtful what, with prudent care
Resolved it should continue there.
At length a voice which well he knew,
A long and melancholy mew,
Saluting his poetic ears,
Consoled him and dispell'd his fears:
He left his bed, he trod the floor,
He 'gan in haste the drawers explore,
The lowest first, and without stop
The rest in order to the top.
For 'tis a truth well known to most,
That whatsoever thing is lost,
We seek it, ere it come to light,
In every cranny but the right.
Forth skipp'd the cat, not now replete
As erst, with airy self-conceit,
Nor in her own fond apprehension
A theme for all the world's attention,
But modest, sober, cured of all
Her notions hyperbolical,
And wishing for a place of rest
Anything rather than a chest.
Then stepp'd the poet into bed
With this reflection in his head:
Beware of too sublime a sense
Of your own worth and consequence :
The man who dreams himself so great,
And his importance of such weight,
That all around, in all that's done,
Must move and act for him alone,
Will learn in school of tribulation
The folly of his expectation.
THE JUDGMENT OF THE POETS.
Two nymphs, both nearly of an age,
Of numerous charms possess'd,
A warm dispute once chanced to wage,
Whose temper was the best.
The worth of each had been complete
Had both alike been mild :
But one, although her smile was sweet,
Frown'd oftener than she smiled.
And in her humor, when she frown'd,
Would raise her voice and roar, And shake with fury to the ground The garland that she wore.
The other was of gentler cast,
From all such frenzy clear,
Her frowns were seldom known to last,
And never proved severe.
To poets of renown in song
The nymphs referred the cause,
Who, strange to tell, all judg'd it wrong,
And gave misplaced applause.
They gentle call'd, and kind and soft,
The flippant and the scold,
And though she changed her mood so oft,
That failing left untold.
No judges, sure, were e'er so mad,
Or so resolved to err-
In short, the charms her sister had
They lavish'd all on her.
Then thus the god, whom fondly they
Their great inspirer call,
Was heard, one genial summer's day,
To reprimand them all.
"Since thus ye have combined," he said, "My favorite nymph to slight,
Adorning May, that peevish maid,
With June's undoubted right,
"The minx shall for your folly's sake,
Still prove herself a shrew,
Shall make your scribbling fingers ache,
And pinch your noses blue."
SURVIVOR Sole, and hardly such, of all
That once lived here, thy brethren, at my birth,
(Since which I number threescore winters past,)
A shatter'd veteran, hollow-trunk'd perhaps,
As now, and with excoriate forks deform,
Relics of ages! could a mind, imbued
With truth from heaven, created things adore,
I might with reverence kneel, and worship thee.
It seems idolatry with some excuse,
When our forefather Druids in their oaks
Imagined sanctity. The conscience, yet
Unpurified by an authentic act
Of amnesty, the meed of blood divine,
Loved not the light, but, gloomy, into gloom
Of thickest shades, like Adam after taste
Of fruit proscribed, as to a refuge, fled.
Thou wast a bauble once, a cup and ball [jay, Which babes might play with; and the thievish Seeking her food, with ease might have purloin'd
*This tree had been known by the name of Judith for many ages. Perhaps it received that name on being planted by the Countess Judith, niece to the Conqueror, whom he gave in marriage to the English Earl Waltheof, with the counties of Northampton and Huntingdon as her dower.-Vide Letters, p. 301.
The auburn nut that held thee, swallowing down
Thy yet close-folded latitude of boughs
And all thine embryo vastness at a gulp.
But fate thy growth decreed; autumnal rains
Beneath thy parent tree mellow'd the soil
Design'd thy cradle; and a skipping deer,
With pointed hoof dibbling the glebe, prepared
The soft receptacle, in which, secure,
Thy rudiments should sleep the winter through.
So fancy dreams. Disprove it, if ye can,
Ye reasoners broad awake, whose busy search
Of argument, employ'd too oft amiss,
Sifts half the pleasures of short life away!
Thou fell'st mature; and, in the loamy clod Swelling with vegetative force instinct,
Didst burst thine egg, as theirs the fabled twins,
Now stars; two lobes, protruding, pair'd exact;
A leaf succeeded, and another leaf,
And, all the elements thy puny growth
Fostering propitious, thou becamest a twig.
Who lived when thou wast such. Oh, could'st thou speak,
As in Dodona once thy kindred trees
Oracular, I would not curious ask
The future, best unknown, but at thy mouth
Inquisitive, the less ambiguous past.
By thee I might correct, erroneous oft, The clock of history, facts and events Timing more punctual, unrecorded facts Recovering, and misstated setting rightDesperate attempt, till trees shall speak again!
Time made thee what thou wast, king of the woods;
And time hath made thee what thou art-a cave For owls to roost in. Once thy spreading boughs