The Halcyon.

A poem by William Hayley

Not only men of stormy minds,
The storms of trouble know,
All creatures of this earth must find
A share of earthly woe!

Ye whose pure hearts with pity swell,
For pain by all incurr'd;
Hear how affliction once befell,
Serenity's sweet bird.

Ye fair, who in your carols praise
The Halcyon's happy state;
Hear in compassionate amaze,
One Halcyon's hapless fate.

A nymph, Selina is her name,
Lovely in mind and mien,
When spring, however early, came,
Was fond of walks marine.

Between a woman and a child,
In tender charms she grew,
And lov'd with fancy sweetly wild,
The lonely shore to view.

Nature she studied, every spring,
To all her offspring kind,
And taught the birds of wildest wing,
To trust her gentle mind.

Now brilliant in her youthful eye,
The Halcyon's feathers flame;
She wish'd a pair of these, tho' shy,
Affectionately tame.

Nor wish'd she long, for such her care;
Such her attractive skill;
She makes e'en rovers of the air,
Attentive to her will.

When stormy March had ceas'd to roar,
Selina joy'd to rove;
And watch a Halcyon on the shore,
Within a little cove.

Familiariz'd by slow degrees,
They met in friendly mood;
'Till her bright favourite on her knees,
Would perch for offer'd food.

How joyous was Selina's breast,
When thus she had prevail'd;
Each coming of her radiant guest,
How tenderly she hail'd.

It seem'd her guest, so frequent here,
The damsel us'd to roam;
And deem'd this little cove so dear,
Her palace and her home.

When April's sun the coast had warm'd,
New joy the nymph possest:
She saw her favourite bird had form'd,
A curious downy nest.

How did her tender heart rejoice,
What prayers she then preferred,
That she might with her tuneful voice,
Delight the brooding bird.

Gay nature smil'd, the prayer she blest,
Selina softly sung;
And felt delight of higher zest;
She nurst the callow young.

But Oh! when human pleasures rise,
To enviable height;
How subtly dark misfortune flies,
To crush them in her flight.

One morn, as nigh the cove so dear,
The quick Selina came:
A sight, which caus'd her grievous fear,
Convuls'd her tender frame!

Near it she draws, but entrance there
A swelling sea denies;
For hostile to her callow care,
The cruel waters rise.

Close to this cove's contracted side,
Three massive stones were laid;
Oft in bare sand, now scarce descried,
Fresh surges round them play'd.

To one, the nearest to the cell,
Alarm'd, Selina wades;
To mark how far the wild wave's swell,
Her darling cove invades.

Behold she kneels! with folded hands,
Kneels on the rugged stone:
Whence now her anxious eye commands,
The cell once deem'd her own!

How keen her anguish to survey,
The tide fill half the cove;
Forth from its seat, with savage sway,
Her Halcyon's nest it drove.

The nest now floats, and from the shore,
The tortur'd parent sprung,
With wildest terror hovers o'er,
And shrieks around her young!

Selina marks the barbarous sea,
The leaky nest divide;
And bold her little friends to free,
She plunges in the tide!

The tender sinking tribe she caught,
But ah! she caught too late!
More rapid, than her generous thought,
Was unrelenting fate.

In vain, with tender pity's clasp,
To her warm breast she holds
The young, whom death's remorseless grasp
In his dark shade infolds.

Off flew the parent in despair,
Her heart appears to burn;
Nor can the sympathetic fair
Persuade her to return.

She, bearing in her robe the dead,
The parent calls anew;
'Till rising rocks, that near them spread,
Conceals her from the view.

Here she despairing now to heal
The wretched parent's pain,
Sat on a rock, in sorrowing zeal,
And kiss'd the dead again!

Her tender nerves confess'd a shock,
To hear a sudden gun!
A smuggler's vessel from the rock,
She now perceives to run.

But with what grief the sound she heard;
How pants her heart with dread,
As she beholds her favourite bird
Now fluttering o'er her head.

That flutter is the gasp of death!
As conscious of it's nest,
It breathes to her its parting breath,
And falls upon her breast!

Weep not sweet nymph, with vain regret,
Your favourite's lifeless state;
But rather think that it has met
An enviable fate.

Yes! to this gentle bird indeed,
It's mercy Heaven has shewn;
And in it's end you now may read
An emblem of your own.

When you, dear nymph, have suffer'd all
Your share of earthly woe;
O may that portion be as small
As mortal e'er may know!

Close in a death, like infant's rest,
Those heaven-reflecting eyes;
And dropping on an angel's breast,
Be wafted to the skies!

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