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In Cecil county, Maryland, at the junction of the Octorara creek
with the Susquehenna, suggested by bearing the birds sing during the remarkably warm weather in February 1806.
What joyous notes are those, so soft, so sweet,
That unexpected, strike my charmed ear!
They are the Robin's song! This genial morn
Deceives the feathered tribe: for yet the sun
In Pisces holds his course; nor yet has Spring
Advanc'd one legal claim; but though oblique,
So mild, so warm, descend his cheering rays,
Impris'ning winter seems subdued. No dread
Of change retards their wing; but off they soar
Triumphing in the fancied dawn of Spring.
Advent'rous birds, and rash! ye little think,
Though lilacs bud, and early willows burst,
How soon the blasts of March—the snowy sleets,
May turn your hasty flight, to seek again
Your wonted warm abodes. Thus prone is youth,
Thus easily allured, to put his trust
In fair appearance; and with hope elate,
And nought suspecting, thus he sallies forth,
To earn experience in the storms of life!
But why thus chide-why not with gratitude
Receive and cherish ev'ry gleam of joy?
For many an hour can witness, that nut oft,
My solitude is cheered by feelings such,
So blithe-so pleasurable as thy song
Sweet Robin, gives. Yet on thy graceful banks,
Majestic Susquehanna-joy might dwell!
For whether bounteous Summer sport her stores,
Or niggard Winter bind them—still the forms
Most grand, most elegant, that Nature wears
Beneath Columbia's skies, are here combin'd.
The wide extended landscape glows with more
Than common beauty. Hills rise on hills
An amphitheatre, whose lofty top,
The spreading oak, or stately poplar crowns-
Whose ever-varying sides present such scenes
Smooth or precipitous—harmonious still
Mild or sublime,—as wake the poet's lay;
Nor aught is wanting to delight the sense;
The gifts of Ceres, or Diana's shades.
The eye enraptur'd roves o'er woods and dells,
Or dwells complacent on the numerous signs
Of cultivated life. The labourer's decent cot,
Marks the clear spring, or bubbling rill.
The lowlier hut hard by the river's edge,
The boat, the seine suspended, tell the place
Where in his season hardy fishers toil.
More elevated on the grassy slope,
The farmer's mansion rises mid his trees;
Thence, o'er his fields the master's watchful eye
Surveys the whole. He sees his flocks, his herds
Excluded from the grain-built cone; all else,
While rigid winter reigns, their free domain!
Range through the pastures, crop the tender root,
Or climbing heights abrupt, search careful out,
The welcome herb,—now prematurely sprung
Through half-thawed earth. Beside him spreading elms
His friendly barrier from th' invading north,
Contrast their shields defensive with the willow
Whose fexile drapery sweeps his rustic lawn.
Before him lie his vegetable stores,
His garden, orchards, meadows—all his hopes—
Now bound in icy chains: but ripening suns
Shall bring their treasures to his plenteous board.
Soon too, the hum of busy man shall wake
Th' adjacent shores. The baited hook, the net,
Drawn skilful round the watry cove, shall bring
Their prize delicious to the rural feast.
Here blooms the laurel on the rugged breaks,
Umbrageous, verdant, through the circling year
His bushy mantle scorning winds or snows
While there-two ample streams confluent grace
Complete the picture-animate the whole!
Broad o'er the plain the Susquehanna rolls,
His rapid waves far sounding as he comes.
Through many a distant clime and verdant vale,
A thousand springy caverns yield their rills,
Augmenting still his force. The torrent grows,
Spreads deep and wide, till braving all restraint
Ev'n mountain ridges feel the imperious press;
Forced from their ancient rock-bound base-- they leave
Their monumental sides, erect, to guard
The pass and tell to future days, and years,
The wond'rous tale! Meanwhile,
The conqueror flood holds on his course,
Resistless ever-sinuous, or direct.
Unconscious tribes beneath his surface play,
Nor heed the laden barques, his surface bear;
Now gliding swiftly by the threatning rocks,
Now swimming smoothly to the distant bay.
To meet and bring his liberal tribute too,
The modest Octorara winds his way,
Not ostentatious like a boasting world
Their little charities proclaiming loud-
But silent through the glade retir'd and wild,
Between the shaded banks on either hand,
Till circling yonder meed—he yields his name.
Nor proudly, Susquehanna! boast thy gain,
For thence, not far, thou too, like him shalt give
Thy congregated waters, title—all,
To swell the nobler name of CHESAPEAKE!
And is not such a scene as this the spell,
That lulls the restless passions into peace?
Yes. Cold must be the sordid heart, unmov'd
By Nature's bounties: but they cannot fill,
That ardent craving in the mind of man,
For social intercourse,—the healthful play-
The moral gem—the light of intellect-
Communion sweet with those we love!
Such is the year.—The morning brings
The bud of pleasure in its wings:
Hope, health, and fortune, smile their day,
And charm each threat'ning cloud away:
But gathering ills increase their force,
And though concealed-make sure their course.
They come—they press—they stand confest,
And disappointment tells the rest.