Now in the Autumn’s royal prime,
When woods are ting’d with Autumn’s brush,
When hickory groves are bright with gold,
And maples wear a blood-red flush;
The poplars bear a yellow crown,
The oaks their robes of russet brown;
The dogwoods their dull purple screen,
Mix’d with the alder’s sable green,
And where the sparling rivulet twines
The greenery of the willow shines.
The silver fretwork of the frost
Gleams in the early morning light;
Balmy and brisk the air is tost
Over salt march and upland height;
Now, shrilly sounds the plovers’ cry
As circling down the breeze they fly.
Where the salt meadows wide and far
Sweep seaward to the sandy bar;
Where pebbled inlet of the bay
Is riotous with the billow’s play, --
There thing the black-breast plovers soar,
Where minute shell-fish line the shore;
There greedily their banquets share,
There hover o’er the fowler’s snare.
But where thy rolling downs outspread,
O wild Montauk! Their grassy plain;
And where the Shinneck hills o’erlook
The vast expanses of the main,
There, where the insect-swarms abound,
The golden-plover flocks are found.
Oft have I stood, ere dawning day
Flash’d on the ocean rim its flame,
With ready gun and throbbing pulse,
To watch great flocks as they came.
First a mere speck across the sky,
A cloudy shadow, drifting near,
But soon a musical, soft cry,
And soon a myriad wings appear!
They hover down the dusky air,
Like rushing winds they whirl and swoop,
Now sweeping low, now circling high,
Then earthward to their banquet stoop.
O brother sportsman! Has the earth
Such thrilling charm to match with this ---
A moment with such rapture fil’d,
An hour of such unbounded bliss?
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