« PreviousContinue »
So faint I am, these tottering feet
No more my palsied frame can bear ;
My freezing heart forgets to beat,
And drifting snows my
prepare. Open your hospitable door,
And shield me from the biting blast : Cold, cold it blows across the moor
The weary moor that I have passed !” With hasty steps the farmer ran,
And close beside the fire they place l'he poor half-frozen beggar-man,
With shaking limbs and pale blue face. The little children flocking came,
And chafed his frozen hands in theirs ;
And busily the good old dame
A comfortable mess prepares.
Their kindness cheered his drooping soul,
And slowly down his wrinkled cheek
The big round tear was seen to roll,
Which told the thanks he could not speak. The children then began to sigh,
And all their merry chat was o'er ; And yet they felt, they knew not why,
More glad than they had done before.
WANTON droll, whose harmless play
Beguiles the rustic's closing day,
When drawn the evening fire about,
Sit aged crone and thoughtless lout,
And child upon his three-foot stool,
Waiting till his supper cool;
And maid, whose cheek outblooms the rose,
As bright the blazing fagot glows-
Who, bending to the friendly light,
Plies her task with busy sleight;
Come, show thy tricks and sportive graces,
Thus circled round with merry faces.
Backward coiled, and crouching low,
With glaring eyeballs watch thy foe,
The housewife's spindle whirling round,
Or thread, or straw, that on the ground
Its shadow throws, by urchin sly
Held out to lure thy roving eye ;
Then, onward stealing, fiercely spring
Upon the futile, faithless thing.
Now wheeling round, with bootless skill,
Thy bo-peep tail provokes thee still,
As oft beyond thy curving side
Its jetty tip is seen to glide ;
Till, from thy centre starting fair,
Thou sidelong rear'st, with rump in air,
Erected stiff, and gait awry,
Like madam in her tantrums high :
Though ne'er a madam of them all,
Whose silken kirtle sweeps the hall,
More varied trick and whim displays,
To catch th' admiring stranger's gaze.
And oft, beneath some urchin's hand,
With modest pride, thou tak’st thy stand,
While many a stroke of fondness glides
Along thy back and tabby sides.
Dilated swells thy glossy fur,
And loudly sings thy busy pur,
As, timing well the equal sound,
Thy clutching feet bepat the ground,
And all their harmless claws disclose,
Like prickles of an early rose;
While softly from thy whiskered cheek
Thy half-closed eyes peer mild and meek.
But not alone by cottage fire Do rustics rude thy feats admire : The learned sage, whose thoughts explore The widest range of human lore;
Or, with unfettered fancy, fly
Through airy heights of poesy,
Pausing, smiles with altered air,
To see thee climb his elbow-chair ;
Or, struggling on the mat below,
Hold warfare with his slippered toe.
The widowed dame, or lonely maid,
Who in the still, but cheerless shade
Of home unsocial, spends her age,
And rarely turns a lettered page ;
Upon her hearth for thee lets fall
The rounded cork, or paper ball,
Nor chides thee on thy wicked watch,
The ends of ravelled skein to catch,
But lets thee have thy wayward will,
Perplexing oft her sober skill.
Whence hast thou, then, thou witless Puss, The magic power to charm us thus ? Is it, that in thy glaring eye And rapid movements we descry, While we at ease, secure from ill, The chimney-corner snugly fill, A lion darting on the prey, A tiger at his ruthless play ? Or is it, that in thee we trace, With all thy varied wanton grace, An emblem viewed with kindred eye, Of tricksy, restless infancy?
Ah! many a lightly sportive child,
Who hath, like thee, our wits beguiled,
To dull and sober manhood grown,
With strange recoil our hearts disown.
Even so, poor Kit ! must thou endure,
When thou becom'st a cat demure,
cuff and angry word,
Chid roughly from the tempting board.
And yet, for that thou hast, I ween,
So oft our favoured playmate been,
Soft be the change which thou shalt prove,
When time hath spoiled thee of our love ;
Still be thou deemed, by housewife fat,
A comely, careful, mousing cat,
Whose dish is, for the public good,
Replenished oft with savoury food.
Nor, when thy span of life is past,
Be thou to pond or dunghill cast;
But gently borne on good man's spade,
Beneath the decent sod be laid,
And children show, with glistening eyes,
The place where poor old Pussy lies.
HE night comes on apace ; Chill blows the blast, and drives the snow in