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"Think, every morning when the sun peeps through The dim, leaf-latticed windows of the grove,
How jubilant the happy birds renew
Their old, melodious madrigals of love! And when you think of this, remember too
'T is always morning somewhere, and above
The awakening continents, from shore to shore,
Somewhere the birds are singing evermore.
"Think of your woods and orchards without birds! Of empty nests that cling to boughs and beams As in an idiot's brain remembered words Hang empty 'mid the cobwebs of his dreams!
Will bleat of nocks or bellowing of herds Make up for the lost music, when your teams
Drag home the stingy harvest, and no more
The feathered gleaners follow to your door?
"What! would you rather see the incessant stir
Of insects in the windrows of the hay, And hear the locust and the grasshopper
Their melancholy hurdy-gurdies play? Is this more pleasant to you than the whir
Of meadow-lark, and her sweet roundelay,
Or twitter of little field-fares, as you take
Your nooning in the shade of bush and brake?
"You call them thieves and pillagers; but know, They are the winged wardens of your farms,
Who from the cornfields drive the insidious foe,
And from your harvests keep a hundred harms; Even the blackest of them all, the crow,
Renders good service as your man-atarms,
Crushing the beetle in his coat of mail, And crying havoc on the slug and snail.
"How can I teach your children gentleness,
And mercy to the weak, and reverence For Life, which, in its weakness or excess,
Is still a gleam of God's omnipotence, Or Death, which, seeming darkness, is no less
The selfsame light, although averted hence,
When by your laws, your actions, and
your speech, You contradict the very things I teach?"
With this he closed; and through the audience went A murmur, like the rustle of dead leaves;
The farmers laughed and nodded, and some bent Their yellow heads together like their sheaves;
Men have no faith in fine-spun sentiment
Who put their trust in bullocks and in beeves.
The birds were doomed ; and, as the ree
ord shows, A bounty offered for the heads of croVs.
There was another audience out of reach, Who had no voice nor vote in making laws,
But in the papers read his little speech, And crowned, his modest temples with applause;
They made him conscious, each one more
than each, He still was victor, vanquished in
their cause. Sweetest of all the applause he won from
O fair Almira at the Academy! ■
And so the dreadful massacre began; O'er fields and orchards, and o'er woodland crests, The ceaseless fusillade of terror ran. Dead fell the birds, with blood-stains on their breasts, Or wounded crept away from sight of man,
While the young died of famine in their nests; A slaughter to be told in groans, not words,
The very St. Bartholomew of Birds!
The Summer came, and all the birds
were dead; The days were like hot coals; the
very ground Was burned to ashes; in the orchards
Myriads of caterpillars, and around The cultivated fields and garden beds Hosts of devouring insects crawled, and found No foe to check their march, till they had made
The land a desert without leaf or shade.
Devoured by worms, like Herod, was the town,
Because, like Herod, it had ruthlessly Slaughtered the Innocents. From the trees spun down The canker-worms upon the passers
Upon each woman's bonnet, shawl, and gown,
Who shook them off with just a little cry;
They were the terror of each favorite walk,
The endless theme of all the village talk.
The farmers grew impatient, but a few Confessed their error, and would not complain,
For after all, the best thing one can do
When it is raining, is to let it rain. Then they repealed the law, although they knew It would not call the dead to life again; As school-boys, finding their mistake too late,
Draw a wet sponge across the accusing slate.
That year in Killingworth the Autumn came
Without the light of his majestic look,
The wonder of the falling tongues of flame,
The illumined pages of his Doom's-
A few lost leaves blushed crimson with
their shame, And drowned themselves despairing
in the brook, While the wild wind went moaning
everywhere, Lamenting the dead children of the air!
But the next Spring a stranger sight was
A sight that never yet by bard was sung,
As great a wonder as it would have been II some dumb animal had found a tongue t
A wagon, overarched with evergreen, Upon whose boughs were wicker cages hung,
All full of singing birds, came down the street,
Filling the air with music wild and sweet.
From all the country round these birds were brought, By order of the town, with anxious quest,
And, loosened from their wicker prisons, sought
In woods and fields the places they loved best, Singing loud canticles, which many thought
Were satires to the authorities addressed,
While others, listening in green lanes, averred
Such lovely music never had been heard!
But blither still and louder carolled they Upon the morrow, for they seemed to know
It was the fair Almira's wedding-day, And everywhere, around, above, below,
When the Preceptor bore his bride away, Their songs burst forth in joyous overflow,
And a new heaven bent over a new earth Amid the sunny farms of Killingworth.
The hour was late; the fire burned low,
The Landlord's eyes were closed in sleep,
As one awaking from a swound,
Then all arose, and said "Good Night."
While from the windows, here and there,
A COLD, uninterrupted rain,
And made a river of the road;
Like phantom ships went drifting by;
Full late they slept. They did not hear
The challenge of Sir Chanticleer,
Who on the empty threshing-floor,
Disdainful of the rain outside,
Was strutting with a martial stride,
As if upon his thigh he wore
The famous broadsword of the Squire,
And said, "Behold me, and admire!"
Only the Poet seemed to hear,
As from the road with sudden sweep
With crack of whip and bark of dog
Then one by one the guests came down,
The Poet then, as one who seems
The breakfast ended, each pursued.
By far the busiest of them all,
Vagrants and pilferers at best,
Meanwhile the Student held discourse
Disguised, transformed, and yet the same
The Poet at the window mused,
Then down the road, with mud besprent, And drenched with rain from head to hoof,
The rain-drops dripping from his mane
The young Sicilian — who had grown
And said: "Alas for human greed,
All gave assent; all wished to hear,
THE SICILIAN'S TALE.
THE BELL OF ATRI.
At Atri in Abruzzo, a small town Of ancient Roman date, but scant renown.
One of those little places that have run Half up the hill, beneath a blazing sun, And then sat down to rest, as if to say, "I climb no farther upward, come what may," —
The Re Giovanni, now unknown to fame, So many monarchs since have borne the name.
Had a great bell hung in the marketplace
Beneath a roof, projecting some small space,
By way of shelter from the sun and rain. Then rode he through the streets with
all his train, And, with the blast of trumpets loud
Made proclamation, that whenever wrong
Was done to any man, he should but ring The great bell in the square, and he, the King,
Would cause the Syndic to decide thereon. Such was the proclamation of King John.
How swift the happy days in Atri sped, What wrongs were righted, need not
here be said. Suffice it that, as all things must decay,
The hempen rope at length was worn away,
Unravelled at the end, and, strand by strand,
Loosened and wasted in the ringer's hand, Till one, who noted this in passing by, Mended the rope with braids of briouy, So that the leaves and tendrils of the vine
Hung like a votive garland at a shrine.
By chance it happened that in Atri dwelt A knight, with spur on heel and sword in belt,
Who loved to hunt the wild-boar in the woods,
Who loved his falcons with their crimson hoods,
Who loved his hounds and horses, and all sports
And prodigalities of campsand courts ;— Loved, or had loved them; for at last,
grown old, His only passion was the love of gold.
He sold his horses, sold his hawks and hounds,
Rented his vineyards and his gardengrounds,
Kept but one steed, his favorite steed of all,
To starve and shiver in a naked stall, And day by day sat brooding in his chair, Devising plans how best to hoard and spare.
At length he said: "What is the use or need
To keep at my own cost this lazy steed,
Let him go feed upon the public ways;
Of the long, lonely, silent, shadeless street;
And wandered in suburban lanes forlorn, Barked at by dogs, and torn by brier and thorn.
One afternoon, as in that sultry clime
The inhabitants cf Atri slept or dozed;
When suddenly upon their senses fell The loud alarum of the accusing bell! The Syndic started from his deep repose, Turned on his couch, and listened, and then rose
And donned his robes, and with reluctant pace
Went panting forth into the marketplace,
Where the great bell upon its cross-beam swung
Reiterating with persistent tongue,
But ere he reached the belfry's light arcade
He saw, or thought he saw, beneath its shade,
No shape of human form of woman born, But a poor steed dejected and forlorn, Who with uplifted head and eager eye Was tugging at the vines of briony. "Domeneddio!" cried the Syndic straight,
"This is the Knight of Atri's steed of
He calls for justice, being sore distressed, And pleads his cause as loudly as the best."
Meanwhile from street and lane a noisy crowd
Had rolled together like a summer cloud,
With much gesticulation and appeal
Did not confess the fact, did not deny;
Maintaining, in an angry undertone. That he should do what pleased him with his own.
And thereupon the Syndic gravely read The proclamation of the King; then said:
"Pride goeth forth on horseback grand and gay,
But cometh back on foot, and begs its way; Fame is the fragrance of heroic deeds,