OVER the fair face of Nature let us muse,
And dream by lapsing stream and drooping wood;
Tread the dark forests whose primeval ranks,
Since the Creation dawn have cast their shade;
Ponder by flowing stream and ocean tides,
And note the varied forms of life they hold;
Mark the wild game so dear to hunter's heart,
The swarming fowl that skim the salty deeps,
The birds that haunt the woodlands and the plains,
The fish that swim the seas, the lakes, the streams,
And tempt the thoughtful angler to their marge;
Glance at the life that fills our native woods,
And game of Asian plains, and Afric wilds.
When soft May breezes fan the early woods,
And with her magic wand the blue-ey'd Spring
Quickens the swelling blossoms and the buds,
Then forth the russet partridge leads her brood,
While on the fallen tree-trunk drums her mate;
The quail her young in tangled thicket hides,
The dun deer with their fawns the forests range,
The wild-geese platoons hasten far in air;
The wild-ducks from their Southern lagoons pass,
And soaring high their Northward journeyings take;
The dusky coot along the coast-line sweep;
The piping snipe and plover, that frequent
The sandy bars and beaches, wing their flight,
And all the grassy prairies of the West,
Teem with the speckled younglings of the grouse;
And all the budding forests and the streams
Are gay with beauty, joyous with young life.
Then swell the first bird melodies: the wren
Chirrups and perches on the garden rail;
The bluebird twitters on the lilac hedge,
Or flits on azure wings from tree to tree;
The golden robin on the apple bough
Hovers, where last year's withered nest had been;
The darting swallows circle o'er the roof,
The woodpeckers on trunk of gnarled trees
Tap their quick drum-heals with their horny beaks,
The crow caws hoarsely from the blasted pine,
High in mid-air the sailing hawk is pois'd,
While from the grove the purple pigeon-flocks
Burst with loud flapping o'er the grain-sown fields.
Fair is the scene in Autumn, when the Frosts From palettes rich,
with prodigal, free brush Color the nodding groves with brown and gold.
Then silvery-skied, and purple-haz'd the dome
Of heaven's deep vault, and fair the earth below.
Far up where sunny uplands slope their sides,
Shaggy with woods, prone to the brimming stream,
Where bowering beech-trees shake their laden boughs,
And oaks their varnished acorns high uplift,
Where the broad butternut its gummy fruit
In russet husks slow-ripens day by day,
And where in crowded ranks the chestnut groves
Wave out their broad-leav'd pennons to the air.
And from their prickly burrs shake treasures down,
There the quick chatterings of the squirrels sound.
The gentle valley with its belt of hills
Crown'd to their tops with grand, primeval woods,
Glows with all forms and hues that nature loves.
Deep in its hollow, stretch meadows brightly green,
Kept verdurous by the full o'erflowing stream;
Yet the deep swamps and thickets that engird
The river-reaches, are resplendent all,
Their umbrage tinctur'd with imperial dyes.
The maples tall with blood-red foliage burn,
The hickories clap their palms of burnish'd gold,
The poplar thrusts its yellow spire in air.
The russet oaks and purpled dogwoods blend
Their colors with the alder's sable green,
And scarlet sumachs; all contrasted rich
With sombre evergreens, and willows pale.
And when the winds autumnal, wailing, strip
The frosted foliage, like a host they stand,
With trailing banners and with drooping plumes.
Such be the scenes in wondrous forest-land
Such be the scenes by sea and lake and stream
That we would pictureŚwild romantic scenes,
Dear to the hunter's and the angler's heart.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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