06 November 2013

The Two Red Breasts - An 1800 Poem

In fairy lands where trees could walk,
Where hills could dance and Robins talk,
A gallant Red Breast, chanc'd to stray,
Among the flowers of beauteous May,
As light he hopp'd, and peck'd the ground,
A female Red Breast, flutter'd round.
Her sparkling eye, of mildest fire,
Her motions form'd to move desire,
Her glowing breast, of brightest red,
Her graceful neck and rolling head,
Her yellow bill and breathing throat,
Her brownish back, and mellow note,
His little breast, with trembling fill'd,
And thro' his nerves, soft pleasure thrill'd,
He gaz'd and sigh'd, and sigh'd again,
Then sweetly sung his am'rous strain :
"Fairest of birds, as good as fair,
"No birds so charming wings the air!
"The mighty eagle, mounts the skies,
"And swift as wind, the pigeon flies,
"The dove delights, in pensive strains,
"And yellow birds, flit o'er the plains,
"But you, dear Red Breast, all excell,
"For none can sing or fly as well."
Her colours brighten'd, while he sung.
She caught the praises of his tongue.
While he exulting, flutt'd gay;
With bill in bill, they coo and play,
Then flew, enraptur'd to the grove,
And sung, all day the joys of love,
Now on the shrubs, with music rung;
Sitting, flying, chirping, wooing,
Flitting, hopping, billing, cooing,
Sportive, thus, they pass'd the day,
No bird so true and blest as they!
As blith one morn, they gaily sung,
And soft, and sweet, their voices rung,
Another Red Breast, Debonair,
With envious eyes, survey'd the pair.
He plum'd his quills, and clear'd his throat,
Each gallant art, each mellow note,
And sprightly grace, this Red Breast knew,
She sweetly sung, and swiftly flew.
Around the fair, he flew and sung,
Love and music, fir'd his tongue.
Her charms he told, with artful strain,
"How sweet, to love, and love again!
"Pleasure springs, from freely ranging,
"Highest rapture, flows from changing."
With list'ning ears she heard him sing,
With him she flew, on gayest wing,
And soon amid a Laurel's shade,
Forgot the vows, she once had made.
There they sung, in sweetest measure,
Toy'd and glanc'd, with amrous pleasure,
'Till nestling, on a dusky spray,
They sunk to rest, with sinking day.
But She no longer clos'd her eyes,
Than round, her injur'd lover flies,
With wings his eyes, he seems to hide,
And now, her faithless vows to chide;
Bleeding now, she sees him lying,
Wounded, flutt'ring, gasping, dying!
Distress'd, she starts, but wakes to woe,
Remorseful tears, begin to flow,
And soon, she spies the rising day,
And mournful, soon, she flies away;
Flies to seek, her injur'd lover,
Where in the grove, they us'd to hover,
But oh! before she found his nest,
With lead, a fowler pierc'd her breast.
Down she flutter'd, bleeding, dying,
On the ground behold her lying.
His name she moans, with dying breath,
Her faithless vows, laments in death;
"Oh, injur'd bird," she panting cry'd,
Then gasp'd and struggled, droop'd and died!
October 20, 1800. Oracle of Dauphin and Harrisburg Advertiser 8(51): 4. Selected Poetry feature.