SUMMER WOODCOCK-SHOOTING a Poem
THE July noonday swoons with heat,
Yet pleasant is the wood's retreat,
For there the drooping branches spread
A checker'd umbrage overhead.
Where scarce the sun-spears, quivering bright,
May pierce the foliage with their light,
Ah! there so shadowy sleeps the wood
Where hermit woodcock seek their food,
(Piercing with bill the oozy edge
Of stream where bends the water-sedge),
That well the gunner may invade
The cool recesses of the shade.
The alders there weave densest screen,
The willows lift their shields of green;
The woodbine twines its glossy crown,
The grapevine drops its garlands down.
There coppice thick and thicket dense,
That hem the brook with thorny fence,
Unite their verdurous shades to greet,
In woodcock haunts, the sportsman's feet.
Turn, gunner, then from harvest vale,
From wheat-fields haunted by the quail,
For not yet may the gun molest
The bevies of the quail in nest.
Spare thou those russet-plumag'd flocks,
Till ripen'd corn is heap'd in shocks,
And all the sumptuous golden grain
Is garner'd from the harvest plain.
For then, in sharp October days,
The quail-flock through the stubble strays;
And pealing shot and smoking gun
Will boast of ample triumphs won.
But rather seek the plashy swale,
Low in the moist and boggy vale,
Or pass thro' bushy swamps that hide
With briery hedge the brooklet side.
These shy, secluded birds all day
In cool, thick-shaded haunts delay;
But when the woods at eve are dim
To open feeding-grounds they skim.
They bore for larvse in the soil,
Or marsh-worms, with a greedy toil;
Loving in springtime to arise
In spiral circles to the skies;
But ever 'tis a welcome mark
In open glade or woodland dark.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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