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IN May-time, when the lilac-plumes
Droop from the branch their purple blooms;
When chestnuts clap their leafy hands,
And every bud with joy expands;
When in the moist, sequester'd nooks
Of woods is heard the call of brooks,
The wood-duck builds its downy nest,
Secure from prowling schoolboy's quest.

The swampy, shallow creeks they haunt,
Where thick woods o'er the waters slant,
Whose interlacing branches make
A dusky evening in the brake;
And there their little nests are made
In hollow mossy log decay'd,
Or where the woodpecker had bored
The crumbling bark to hide his hoard,
Fast by the stream whose ripples beat
The tree-roots of their close retreat.

Most beauteous of all the race
That skim the wave or soar in space,
With plumage fairer than the rays
The bird-of-paradise displays,
A mottled purple gloss'd with green,
All colors in the rainbow seen;
No tropic bird of Indian skies
May rival thy imperial dyes.

Least wary of all fowl that wing
O'er salty bay or inland spring,
They haunt the pond whose reedy shore
Extendeth by the farmer's door,
Or rivulet whose waters trill
Their melodies below the mill;
And here the ambush'd gunner lies
To gather in his lovely prize.

Fair are thy haunts, O bird that glows
With hues of violet and rose,
By lakelet, by transparent stream,
Fair as the landscape of a dream,
Fair with the drooping groves that throw
Their shadows o'er the current's flow;
Fair with the bordering slopes that lave
Their grasses in the crystal wave,
The crystal wave reflecting back
The sky-cloud drifting on its track,
Where morn and eve enfold their wing
Celestial, and the bluebirds sing.

McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.

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