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BOYHOOD AND BIRDS-MOCKING-BIRDS IN A STRANGE NEST, .
WILD SCENES AND SONG-BIRDS.
NATURE AND HER HARMONIES.
I LOVE song-birds with a singular affection. Out of the bottom of my heart I love them-for of all God's creatures, except a clear-eyed, innocent child, they have been to me a wonder and a miracle.
I never could get done wondering to hear them sing. It sounds so strange to me that anything could be happy enough to sing but angels and young girls !
Singing, when we come to think of it, seems properly to be the language of a deathless being
the right form in which the exultings of an Immortal should be poured among the waves of shoreless sound.
That a sweet sound should ever cease to be, appears to me unnatural—at least unpoetical—for, let its vibrations once begin, though they may soon die to our gross sense, must they not go widening, circling on, stinging the sense of myriad other lives with a mysterious pleasantness (such as will overcome us in a wood upon an April day), until the uttermost bound of our poor space be past, and yet the large circumference go spread and spreading tremulous among the girdling stars?
It may be so for all we can tell! If it be so, how quaint it is to hear these little feathered creatures, from some frail sprig—with such unconscious earnestness-gushing out strains that are to chime the solemn dance of systems! Mystery is all around us. Who knows but that these things be?
Whether or no, it is a marvellous reality to hear birds singing. If you look at them while they do it, with their upturned bills, their rapt, softened, half-closed eyes, their bodies quivering in the ecstatic travail—you cannot but feel in reverential mood, and hear your own rebuked heart whispering "let us pray!"
What! When their shrill, melodious clamorings go up with the mists before the sun, and make his coming over earth to be with light in music, are they not chaunting matins to the God of all ?
When he hastens to decline, and from the spires of treetops everywhere the Thrush and Robin sing a low-voiced hymn—is it not a vesper-symphonie of thanks ?
And when, in the deep night, the Oriole, in dreamy twitterings, and the Mocking-bird, in clear, triumphing notes, stir the dark shadows of the cold, gray moon to the wild pulsing of unmeasured chords—is it not a worship fitting to that mystic time?
Verily, they symbol to us a spiritual and a holier life! The purpose of their being is in prayer and praise, just as they say it is with Angels.
They do not taste the fruits of earth, and revel in the warm kisses of the day unthankfully; but when their little hearts—forever drinking love-fill up to the brim, they let their cadent fulness go towards heaven.
They sing when they have eaten—they sing when they have drunk—while they are waking, music always trembles at their breasts—they pay back the caressing sun in sweetness—and when they sleep, and the shining beams are showered silently and pale, down from the bosom of the darkness over them, their dreams break out in momentary song.
They take the berry, flushing underneath green leaves,
and the sense of hunger is relieved. So when they snatch the earth-worm-stirring unusually the grass blades of the sward beneath them—from its slimy hole, the bare appetite is soothed.
Theirs is no sodden gormandie, such as we human brutes indulge, that would doze and snooze away the precious hours. No; this food with them is but the “provender of praise;" and for every mite and fragment of the manna of the "great Dispenser” they do obeisance in thanksgiving.
Beautiful lesson, is it not, to us a stiff-necked and ungrateful generation? We eat to live, that we may eat again. They eat that they may make merry before the Lord, and fill his outer temple with the sounds of love!
One of the most touching—and what certainly should be one of the most significant objects known to us, is afforded in the habitual gesture of these little creatures while they drink.
Think of a thin rivulet by the meadow-side playing at bopeep with the sun beneath the thickets—and so clear withal, that every stem, jagged limb, or crooked, leaf-weighed bough, lies boldly shadowed on its pale sand, or over its white pebbles, like moon-shades on the snow—except that these are tremulous.
Then think of the singing throng who have been anticking and carrolling all the morning upon the weed and clovertops, out under the sun-coming into that shady place about “the sweltering time o' day,” to cool their pipes.
How eagerly they come flitting in, with panting, open throats! How quietly, through those cool, chequered glooms, they drop beside that sliding crystal.
Here a scarlet Grosbeak flames partly in the sunlight, while his ebony-set eyes gleam sharper in the shade; the Jay sits yonder behind a plumb-tree shadow, with lowered crest and gaping bill—the Meadow Lark wades in and stoops until the wavelets curl up against its yellow breast and kiss the dark blotch on its throat; the Wren comes creeping down with wagging tail among the mossy roots; the Orchard Oriole,