« PoprzedniaDalej »
five or six syllables, generally interspersed with imitations, and all of them uttered with great emphasis and rapidity, and continued, with undiminished ardor, for half an hour, or an hour, at a time; his expanded wings and tail, glistening with white, and the buoyant gayety of his action, arresting the eye, as his song most irresistibly does the ear. He sweeps round with enthusiastic ecstasy; he mounts and descends, as his song swells or dies away, and, as my friend Mr. Bartram has beautifully expressed it, "he bounds aloft with the celerity of an arrow, as if to recover or recall his very soul, which expired in the last elevated strain." While thus exerting himself, a bystander, destitute of sight, would suppose that the whole feathered tribes had assembled together on a trial of skill, each striving to produce his utmost effect, so perfect are his imitations. He many times deceives the sportsman, and sends him in search of birds that perhaps are not within miles of him, but whose notes he exactly imitates. Even birds themselves are frequently imposed on by this admirable mimic, and are decoyed by the fancied calls of their mates, or dive, with precipitation, into the depths of thickets, at the scream of what they suppose to be the sparrow-hawk.
The mocking-bird loses little of the power and energy of his song by confinement. In his domesticated state, when he commences his career of song, it is impossible to stand by uninterested.. He whistles for the dog: Cæsar starts up, wags his tail, and runs to meet his master. He squeaks out like a hurt chicken; and the hen hurries about, with hanging wings and bristled feathers, clucking to protect her injured brood. The barking of the dog, the mewing of the cat, the creaking of a passing wheelbarrow, follow with great truth and rapidity. He repeats the tune taught him by his master, though of considerable length, fully and faithfully. He runs over the quiverings of the canary, and the clear whistlings of the Virginia nightingale or red-bird, with such superior execution and effect, that the morti
fied songsters feel their own inferiority, and become altogether silent, while he seems to triumph in their defeat, by redoubling his exertions.
This excessive fondness for variety, however, in the opinion of some, injures his song. His elevated imitations of the brown thrush are frequently interrupted by the crowing of cocks; and the warblings of the blue-bird, which he exquisitely manages, are mingled with the screaming of swallows, or the cackling of hens; amidst the simple melody of the robin, we are suddenly surprised by the shrill reiterations of the whip-poor-will; while the notes of the killdeer, blue jay, martin, baltimore, and twenty others, succeed, with such imposing reality, that we look round for the originals, and discover, with astonishment, that the sole performer, in this singular concert, is the admirable bird now before us. During this exhibition of his powers, he spreads his wings, expands his tail, and throws himself around the cage in all the ecstasy of enthusiasm, seeming not only to sing, but to dance, keeping time to the measure of his own music. Both in his native and domesticated state, during the solemn stillness of the night, as soon as the moon rises in silent majesty, he begins his delightful solo, and serenades us the livelong night with a full display of his vocal powers, making the whole neighborhood ring with his inimitable melody.
Ode on the Passions.
WHEN Music, heavenly maid, was young,
By turns, they felt the glowing mind
Each- for madness ruled the hour
Would prove his own expressive power.
First Fear, his hand, its skill to try,
Next, Anger rushed; his eyes, on fire,
In lightnings owned his secret stings;
And swept with hurried hand the strings.
With woful measures, wan Despair
Low, sullen sounds his grief beguiled;
But thou, O Hope! with eyes so fair,
And from the rocks, the woods, the vale,
And, where her sweetest theme she chose,
A soft, responsive voice was heard at every close ; And Hope, enchanted, smiled, and waved her golden hair;
And longer had she sung — but, with a frown,
Revenge impatient rose.
He threw his blood-stained sword in thunder down;
The war-denouncing trumpet took,
And blew a blast, so loud and dread,
Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe;
The doubling drum with furious heat:
And though, sometimes, each dreary pause between, Dejected Pity at his side,
Her soul-subduing voice applied,
Yet still he kept his wild, unaltered mien,
While each strained ball of sight seemed bursting from his head.
Thy numbers, Jealousy, to nought were fixed;
Of differing themes the veering song was mixed;
now, raving, called on Hate.
With eyes upraised, as one inspired,
And, from her wild, sequestered seat,
In notes by distance made more sweet,
Poured through the mellow horn her pensive soul ;
And, dashing soft from rocks around,
Bubbling runnels joined the sound:
Through glades and glooms the mingled measure stole,
Or o'er some haunted stream, with fond delay,
(Round a holy calm diffusing,
Love of peace and lonely musing,)
In hollow murmurs died away.
But, O! how altered was its sprightlier tone, When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
Her bow across her shoulder flung, Her buskins gemmed with morning dew,
Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung
Peeping from forth their alleys green;
And Sport leaped up, and seized his beechen spear.
Last, came Joy's ecstatic trial :
He, with viny crown advancing,
First to the lively pipe his hand addressed;
As if he would the charming air repay,
O Music! sphere-descended maid,