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FIERCEST of all, the lordly lion stalks,
Grimly majestic in his lonely walks ;
When round he glares, all living creatures fly;
He clears the desert with his rolling eye.
Say, mortal, does he rouse at thy command,
And roar to thee, and live upon thy hand?
Dost thou, for him, in forests bend thy bow,
And to his gloomy den the morsel throw,
Where, bent on death, lie hid his tawny brood,
And, couch'd in dreadful ambush, pant for blood;
Or, stretch'd on broken limbs, consume the day,
In darkness wrapp'd, and slumber o'er their prey?
By the pale moon they take their destined round,
And lash their sides, and furious tear the ground;
Now shrieks and dying groans the desert fill;
They rage, they rend; their ravenous jaws distil
With crimson foam; and when the banquet's o'er,
They stride away, and print their steps with gore;
In flight alone the shepherd puts his trust,
And shudders at the talon in the dust.
How beautiful this night! the balmiest sigh,
Which vernal zephyrs breathe in evening's ear,
Were discord to the speaking quietude
That wraps this moveless scene. Heaven's ebon vault,
Studded with stars unutterably bright,
Through which the moon's unclouded grandeur rolls,
Seems like a canopy which love had spread
To curtain her sleeping world. Yon gentle hills,
Robed in a garment of untrodden snow-
Yon darksome rocks, whence icicles depend,
So stainless, that their white and glittering spires
Tinge not the moon's pure beam-yon castled steep,
Whose banner hangeth o'er the time-worn tower
So idly, that wrapt fancy deemeth it
A metaphor of peace ;-all form a scene
Where musing solitude might love to lift
Her soul above this sphere of earthliness;
Where silence undisturb'd might watch alone,
So cold, so bright, so still.
THE SHEPHERD AND THE PHILOSOPHER.
REMOTE from cities lived a swain,
Unvex'd with all the cares of gain ;
His head was silver'd o'er with age,
And long experience made him sage;
In summer's heat and winter's cold,
He fed his flock and penn'd the fold;
His hours in cheerful labour flew,
Nor envy nor ambition knew ;
His wisdom and his honest fame
Through all the country raised his name.
A deep Philosopher (whose rules
Of moral life were drawn from schools),
The shepherd's homely cottage sought,
And thus explored his reach of thought.
"Whence is thy learning? Hath thy toil
O'er books consumed the midnight oil?
Hast thou old Greece and Rome survey'd,
And the vast sense of Plato weigh'd?
Hath Socrates thy soul refined?
And hast thou fathom'd Tully's mind?
Or, like the wise Ulysses, thrown
By various fates on realms unknown,
Hast thou through many cities stray'd,
Their customs, laws, and manners weigh'd?"
THE SHEPHERD AND THE PHILOSOPHER.
The Shepherd modestly replied,
"I ne'er the paths of learning tried;
Nor have I roam'd in foreign parts
To read mankind, their laws and arts;
For man is practised in disguise;
He cheats the most discerning eyes.
Who by that search shall wiser grow,
When we ourselves can never know?
The little knowledge I have gain'd
Was all from simple Nature drain'd;
Hence my life's maxims took their rise;
Hence grew my settled hate to vice.
The daily labours of the bee
Awake my soul to industry:
Who can observe the careful ant,
And not provide for future want?
My dog (the trustiest of his kind)
With gratitude inflames my mind;
I mark his true, his faithful way,
And in my service copy Tray.
In constancy and nuptial love
I learn my duty from the dove.
The hen, who from the chilly air
With pious wings protects her care,
And every fowl that flies at large
Instructs me in a parent's charge.
From Nature, too, I take my rule,
To shun contempt and ridicule.
I never, with important air,
In conversation overbear.
Can grave and formal pass for wise,
When men the solemn owl despise ?
My tongue within my lips I rein,
For who talks much must talk in vain.
We from the wordy torrent fly:
Who listens to the chattering pie?
Nor would I, with felonious sleight,
By stealth invade my neighbour's right:
Rapacious animals we hate;
Kites, hawks, and wolves deserve their fate.
Do we not just abhorrence find
Against the toad and serpent kind?
But envy, calumny, and spite
Bear stronger venom in their bite.
Thus every object of Creation
Can furnish hints to contemplation,
And from the most minute and mean,
A virtuous mind can morals glean."
"Thy fame is just," the sage replies,
Thy virtue proves thee truly wise.
Pride often guides the author's pen;
Books as affected are as men.
But he who studies Nature's laws,
From certain truth his maxims draws;
And those, without our schools, suffice
To make men moral, good, and wise.”