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When winter bites upon the naked plain,
Nor food nor shelter in the groves remain,
By instinct led, a firm united band,
As marshaled by some skillful general's hand,
The congregated nations wing their way
In dusky columns o'er the trackless sea;
In clouds unnumbered annual hover o'er
The craggy Bass, or Kilda's utmost shore;
Thence spread their sails to meet the southern wind,
And leave the gathering tempest far behind;
Pursue the circling sun's indulgent ray,
Course the swift seasons, and o'ertake the day.
Not so the insect race, ordained to keep
The lazy sabbath of a half-year's sleep:
Entombed beneath the filmy web they lie,
And wait the influence of a kinder sky.
When vernal sunbeams pierce their dark retreat,
The heaving tomb distends with vital heat;
The full-formed brood, impatient of their cell,
Start from their trance, and burst their silken shell ;
Trembling awhile they stand, and scarcely dare
To launch at once upon the untried air :
At length assured, they catch the favouring gale,
And leave their sordid spoils, and high in ether sail.
So when brave Tancred struck the conscious rind,
He found a nymph in every trunk confined ;
The forest labours with convulsive throes,
The bursting trees the lovely births disclose,
And a gay troop of damsels round him stood,
Where late was rugged bark and lifeless wood.
Lo, the bright train their radiant wings unfold !
With silver fringed, and freckled o’er with gold :
On the gay bosom of some fragrant flower
They idly fluttering live their little hour;
Their life all pleasure, and their task all play,
All spring their age, and sunshine all their day.
Not so the child of sorrow, wretched Man,
His course with toil concludes, with pain began;
That his high destiny he might discern,
And in misfortune's school this lesson learn....
Pleasure's the portion of the inferior kind;
But glory, virtue, Heaven for Man designed.
What atom-forms of insect life appear!
And who can follow Nature's pencil here?
Their wings with azure, green, and purple glossed,
Studded with coloured eyes, with gems embossed,
Inlaid with pearl, and marked with various stains
Of lively crimson through their dusky veins.
Some shoot like living stars athwart the night,
And scatter from their wings a vivid light,
To guide the Indian to his tawny loves,
As through the woods with cautious step he moves.
See the proud giant of the beetle race;
What shining arms his polished limbs enchase!
Like some stern warrior formidably bright,
His steely sides reflect a gleaming light :
On his large forehead spreading horns he wears, And high in air the branching antlers bears : O'er many an inch extends his wide domain, And his rich treasury swells with hoarded grain.
Thy friend thus strives to cheat the lonely hour,
With song or paint, an insect or a flower :-
Yet if Amanda praise the flowing line,
And bend delighted o’er the gay design,
envy not nor emulate the fame
Or of the painter's or the poet's name :
Could I to both with equal claim pretend,
Yet far, far dearer were the name of Friend.
O BORN to soothe distress and lighten care,
Lively as soft, and innocent as fair!
Blest with that sweet simplicity of thought
So rarely found, and never to be taught;
Of winning speech, endearing, artless, kind,
The loveliest pattern of a female mind;
Like some fair spirit from the realms of rest,
With all her native heaven within her breast;
So pure, so good, she scarce can guess at sin,
But thinks the world without like that within ;
Such melting tenderness, so fond to bless,
Her charity almost becomes excess.