James Thomson

(11 September 1700 – 27 August 1748 / Ednam in Roxburghshire, Scotland)

Care of Birds for their Young


As thus the patient dam assiduous sits,
Not to be tempted from her tender task,
Or by sharp hunger, or by smooth delight,
Tho' the whole loosen'd spring around her blows,
Her sympathising partner takes his stand
High on th' opponent bank, and ceaseless sings
The tedious time away; or else supplies
Her place a moment, while she sudden flits
To pick the scanty meal. Th' appointed time
With pious toil fulfill'd, the callow young,
Warm'd and expanded into perfect life,
Their brittle bondage break, and come to light,
A helpless family, demanding food
With constant clamour. O what passions then,
What melting sentiments of kindly care,
On the new parents seize! Away they fly
Affectionate, and undesiring bear
The more delicious morsel to their young;
Which equally distributed, again
The search begins. Even so a gentle pair,
By fortune sunk, but form'd of gen'rous mould,
And charm'd with cares beyond the vulgar breat;
In some lone cot amid the distant woods,
Sustain'd alone by providential Heav'n,
Oft, as they weeping, eye their infant train,
Check their own appetites, and give them all.
Nor toil alone they scorn: exalting love,
By the great Father of the spring inspired,
Gives instant courage to the fearful race,
And to the simple art. With stealthy wing,
Should some rude foot their woody haunts molest,
Amid a neighbouring bush they silent drop,
And whirring thence, as if alarmed, deceive
The unfeeling shool-boy. Hence, around the head
Of wandering swain, the white winged plover wheels
Her sounding flight, and then directly on,
In long excursion, skims the level lawn,
To tempt him from her nest. The wild-duck hence,
O'er the rough moss; and o'er the trackless waste
The heath-hen flutters; pious fraud! to lead
The hot-pursuing spaniel far astray.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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