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Poem by James Thomson
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.
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