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Rather I'd hear stories twice ten times told,
Or vapid joke, filched from Joe Miller's page,
Or tale of ghost, hobgoblin dire, or witch;
Nor would I, with a proud fastidious frown,
Proscribe the laugh-provoking pun; absurd
Although it be, and hard to be discerned,
It serves the purpose, if it shake our sides.
Now let the temperate cup inspire the song,
The catch, the glee; or list! the melting lays
Of Scotia's pastoral vales,—they ever please.
Loud blows the blast; while, sheltered from its
rage, The social circle feel their joys enhanced. Ah, little think they of the storm-tossed ship, Amid the uproar of the winds and waves, The waves unseen, save by the lightning's glare, Or cannon's flash, sad signal of distress. The trembling crew each moment think they feel The shock of sunken rock:- at last they strike: Borne on the blast, their dying voices reach, Faintly, the sea-girt hamlet; help is vain: The morning light discloses to the view The mast alternate seen and hid, as sinks Or heaves the surge. The early village maid Turns pale, like clouds when o'er the moon they glide;
She thinks of her true love, far, far at sea;
Mournful, the live long day she turns her wheel,
And ever and anon her head she bends,
While with the flax she dries the trickling tear.
How calm that little lake! no breath of wind
Sighs through the reeds; a clear abyss it seems
Held in the concave of the inverted sky,-
In which is seen the rook's dull flagging wing
Move o'er the silvery clouds. How peaceful sails
Yon little fleet, the wild duck and her brood !
Fearless of harm, they row their easy way;
The water-lily, 'neath the plumy prows,
Dips, re-appearing in their dimpled track.
Yet, even amid that scene of peace, the noise
Of war, unequal, dastard war, intrudes.
Yon revel rout of men, and boys, and dogs,
Boisterous approach; the spaniel dashes in;
Quick he descries the prey, and faster swims,
And eager barks : the harmless flock, dismayed,
Hasten to gain the thickest grove of reeds,
All but the parent pair; they, floating, wait
To lure the foe, and lead him from their young;
But soon themselves are forced to seek the shore.
Vain then the buoyant wing; the leaden storm
Arrests their flight; they, fluttering, bleeding fall,
And tinge the troubled bosom of the lake.