Abbildungen der Seite

yet beat in America, or perhaps in modern times.

Then these chapters are a proper supplement or continuation of my themes, and their analogy in literature, because in them we shall “ follow out these lessons of the earth and air,” and behold their application to higher matters.

It is not an artificially graded path strewn with roses that invites us in this part, but let me hope something better, a rugged trail through the woods or along the beach, where we shall now and then get a whiff of natural air, or a glimpse of something to

Make the wild blood start
In its mystic springs."

[blocks in formation]


"In summer, when the shawes be shene,

And leaves be large and long,
It is full merry in fair forest

To hear the fowlés' song.
The wood-wele sang, and wolde not cease,

Sitting upon the spray:
So loud, it wakened Robin Hood

In the greenwood where he lay."

[ocr errors]

because it is only the poetical temperament that fully responds to them. So true is this, that all the great ornithologists--origi. nal namers and biographers of the birds-have been poets in deed, if not in word. Audubon is a notable case in point, who, if he had not the tongue or pen of the poet, certainly had the eye and ear and heart“the fluid and attaching character”—and the singleness of purpose, the enthusiasm, the unworldliness, the love, that character. ises the true and divine race of bards.

So had Wilson, though perhaps not in as large a measure ; yet he took fire as only a poet can. While making a journey on foot to Philadelphia, shortly after landing in this country, he caught sight of the red-headed woodpecker flitting among the trees—a bird that shows like a tricoloured scarf among the foliage, and it so kindled his enthusiasm that his life was devoted to the pursuit of the birds from that day. It was a lucky hit. Wilson had already set up as a poet in Scotland, and was still fermenting when the bird met his eye and suggested to his soul a new outlet for its enthusiasm.

The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense is his life-large brained, large lunged, hot, ecstatic, his frame charged with buoyancy and his heart with song. The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds,-how many human aspirations are realised in their free, holiday-lives—and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song!

Indeed, is not the bird the original type and teacher of the poet, and do we not demand of the human lark or thrush that he “shake

« ZurückWeiter »