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The Naturalist's Diary
For SEPTEMBER 1829.
Whom call we gay? That honour has been long
The boast of mere pretenders to the name.
The innocent are gay-the lark is gay,
That dries his feathers, saturate with dew,
Beneath the rosy cloud, while yet the beams
Of day-spring overshoot his humble nest.
IN September and October, the generality of our singing birds are to be no longer distinguished by their voices: the sweet sounds they are gifted with, which we call their song, seem to proceed from the male bird only during the season of incubation, and, except from accidental causes, all these cares have terminated before this period. One little bird, however, yet delights us with the sweetest harmony: in the calm mornings of this season of the year, the woodlark carols in the air, chiefly in the neighbourhood of thickets and copses, with a soft quietness perfectly in unison with the sober, almost melancholy stillness of the hour. The sweet, simple note of the robin is again heard, and the skylark delights us with his melody.
Go, tuneful lark, on quiv'ring pinions borne
To dewy-bosomed skies, and wing thy way
Up to heav'n-gate, while now the young-eyed day
Peeps underneath the veiling lids of morn,
With warble sweet of early notes, to warn
The ling'ring sun; then, as thy liquid lay
Steals softly o'er the mountain-summit gray,
Thy mate, light tripping on the grassy bourne,
Shall listen to thy song.
A green and silent spot amid the hills,
A small and silent dell! O'er stiller place
No singing skylark ever poised himself.
The hills are heathy, save that swelling slope,
Which hath a gay and gorgeous covering on,
All golden with the never-bloomless furze,
Which now blooms most profusely: but the dell,
Bathed by the mist, is fresh and delicate
As vernal corn-field, or the unripe flax,
When, through its half-transparent stalks, at eve
The level sunshine glimmers with green light.
Oh, 'tis a quiet spirit-healing nook!
Which all, methinks, would love; but chiefly he,
The humble man, who, in his youthful years,
Knew just so much of folly as had made
His early manhood more securely wise!
Here he might lie on fern or withered heath,
While from the singing-lark (that sings unseen-
The minstrelsy that solitude loves best),
And from the sun, and from the breezy air,
Sweet influences trembled o'er his frame;
And he, with many feelings, many thoughts,
Made up a meditative joy, and found
Religious meanings in the forms of nature!
And so, his senses gradually wrapt
In a half sleep, be dreams of better worlds,
And dreaming hears thee still, O singing-lark,
That singest like an angel in the clouds!
[Written for Time's Telescope, by Delta of Blackwood's Magazine.]
The shower hath drifted o'er; the blue Of cloudless heaven shines softly through; Still is the air, the sea is calm,
The bright-bloomed flowers outbreathing balm;
And from the west, with orange ray,
Serenely clear, and calmly gay,
The sun looks forth o'er ocean's isles,
O'er earth and heaven, and, setting, smiles.
What, though the day in clouds hath passed,
Though dripped the rain, and roared the blast,
Though Morning's orient flag unfurled
Scarce awed the shades that dimmed the world,
And fire-eyed Noon's resplendent car
Ploughed vainly through deep mists afar,-
This scene of beauty and delights,
And evening radiance, well requites
For dreary doubts, for boding gloom,
And dreams, whose dwelling was the tomb.
The murmuring bee, from flower to flower,
Is roaming round the blos'my bower,-
The clustering bower, where jasmine wreath
Is mixed with odorous flowers; beneath
The creeping honeysuckle weaves
Its yellow horns with ivy leaves;
And round about, in many a row,
The lilies of the valley blow,
Upshooting snowy bells between
Luxuriant stems of darkest green.
How bright, how beautiful, the day
In its calm lustre dies away,
As if the clouds that wept the while
Now dried their tears, and turned to smile
Down on the verdant vales of earth,
Whose looks have changed from gloom to mirth:
On every blade, and leaf, and stem,
Of diamond drops a diadem
Around is sprinkled, bright and clear
As Beauty's sympathizing tear
When sinless sorrows cause its flow;-
The fruits depend from every bough,
Mellow and ripe; the downy peach,
The purpled plum, and nectarine, each
Half shaded by its leaves, in hue
Diversified, and varying too.
With note melodious, clear and free,
Upon the moss-browned apple-tree,
Within the ancient orchard's pale,
The blackbird, Scotland's nightingale,
Sits singing, and responses sound
From every grove and garden round.
When worldly strife is hushed, and all With Music's murmuring, dying fall, The air is stirred, how sweet to rest, Remote from men, with easy breast, While scenes awake to Memory's eye, Scenes whose bright hues can never die, As round the pictures of the past Her more than sun-light glow is cast,— Scenes, 'mid Time's landscape far, but seen By Distance hallowed, calm, serene, And bearing in their mellow dyes, As 'twere, the mark of Paradise ;So, over Ocean's billows curled, Blue coasts seem confines of a worldA world of hope, and love, and truth, And beauty, to the eyes of youth; Some realm of fancy, which, how fain The feet would traverse, but in vain.
Yes! all of calm, and grand, and fair,
In iris hues are pictured there;
There, from terrestrial dross refined,
We see the shadows of mankind,
Beyond the clouds of grief and fear,
Bright wandering in a fairy sphere;
All low-born cares dispersed and gone,
Misfortune fled, and Pain unknown.
We look on valorous deeds, which raise To ecstacy the voice of praise, As youthful Wolfe sinks down to die Within the arms of Victory;
Or Moore, without a murmur, yields
His spirit on the last of fields,
And, by his mourning comrades brave
Is laid, at midnight, in the grave :-
We listen to the words, whose glow
Makes nations like a river flow,
As Chatham's kindled lips dispense
The lava tide of eloquence,
Unmanacle the friendless slave,
Stir up the nerveless to be brave,
And bid his country's armies be
Unmatched on shore, supreme at sea;-
We marvel at the thoughts which climb
Above our nature, bright, sublime,
As, of the immortal, Milton sings,
His muse, on angel-pinioned wings,
Aspiring high, till Heaven above
Seems linked to Earth with chains of love.
Although Flora is not lavish of her beauties in this month, she still presents specimens worthy of our admiration. There are in blow, in September, heart's-ease, nasturtia, marigolds, sweet peas, mignionette, golden rod, stocks, tangier pea, holly-hock, michaelmas daisy1, saffron, and ivy. The dahlia and the Marvel of Peru exhibit an abundance of beautiful flowers in this and the succeeding month.
China asters and African marigolds are now leading ornaments, with some Chelones and Phloxes. The flowering rush, smallage, and the great burnet saxifrage, are now in flower. The convolvuli, or bind weeds, adorn almost every hedge with their milkwhite blossoms.-See our last volume, pp. 254, et seq.
The larva of the privet hawk-moth may now be found on the privet-shrub, and its elegant appearance affords a contrast to the uninviting form of many of the caterpillar tribe. See T.T. for 1824, p. 248.
The Phalana russula and the saffron butterfly appear in this month. The sulphur butterfly also will frequently be seen in the bright mornings of September, flitting about the gay flowers of our gardens.
1 Last smile of the departing year,
Thy sister sweets are flown;
Thy pensive wreath is far more dear
From blooming thus alone!
Thy tender blush, thy simple frame,
Unnoticed might have passed;
But now thou com'st with softer claim,
The loveliest and the last.
Sweet are the charms in thee we find,—
Emblem of Hope's gay wing:
'Tis thine to call past bloom to mind,
To promise future spring.
Literary Gazette, and Watts's Poetical Album.