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NETTED STRAWBERRIES

121

What the hammer, what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
Did God smile his work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

WILLIAM BLAKE

NETTED STRAWBERRIES

I am a willow-wren:
I twitter in the grass on the chimney-top;
The apples far below will never drop
Or turn quite bright, though when

The aimless wind is still
I stand upon the big ones and I peck
And find soft places, leaving spot and speck
When I have munched my fill.

Apples and plums I know
(Plums are dark weights and full of golden rain
That wets neck-feathers when I dip and strain,
And stickies each plumy row),

But past my well-kept trees
The quick small woman in her puffy gown,
'That flutters as if its sleeves and skirts had grown
For flying and airy ease,

Has planted little bushes
Of large cool leaves that cover and shade and hide
Things redder than plums and with gold dimples pied
Dropping on new-cut rushes.

At first I thought with spite
Such heady scent was only a flower's wide cup;
But flower-scents never made my throat close up,
And so I stood in my flight.

Yet over all there sways
'A web like those revealed by dawn and dew,
But not like those that break and let me through
Shivering the drops all ways.

Though I alight and swing
I never reach the things that tumble and crush,
And if I had such long large legs as a thrush
The web would tangle and cling.

GORDON BOTTOMLEY

EPITAPH ON A HARE

Here lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,

Nor swifter greyhound follow,
Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,

Nor ear heard huntsman's halloo;

Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,

Who, nursed with tender care, And to domestic bounds confined,

Was still a wild Jack hare.

Though duly from my hand he took

His pittance every night,

EPITAPH ON A HARE

123

He did it with a jealous look,

And when he could, would bite.

His diet was of wheaten bread,

And milk, and oats, and straw; Thistles, or lettuces instead,

With sand to scour his maw.

On twigs of hawthorn he regaled,

On pippin's russet peel,
And, when his juicy salads failed,

Sliced carrot pleased him well.

A Turkey carpet was his lawn,

Whereon he loved to bound, To skip and gambol like a fawn,

And swing his rump around.

His frisking was at evening hours,

For then he lost his fear,
But most before approaching showers,

Or when a storm drew near.

Eight years and five round-rolling moons

He thus saw steal away, Dozing out all his idle noons,

And every night at play.

I kept him for his humour's sake,

For he would oft beguile
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,

And force me to a smile.

But now beneath this walnut shade

He finds his long last home,
And waits, in snug concealment laid

Till gentler Puss shall come.

He, still more agèd, feels the shocks

From which no care can save, And, partner once of Tiney's box, Must soon partake his grave.

WILLIAM COWPER

TO THE LARK

Good speed, for I this day
Betimes my matins say,

Because I do
Begin to woo.
Sweet singing lark,
Be thou the clerk,
And know thy when
To say Amen.
And if I

prove
Blest in my love,
Then thou shalt be
High Priest to me,
At

my return
To incense burn,
And so to solemnise
Love's and my sacrifice.

ROBERT HERRICK

SYLVIA

125

THE OXEN

CHRISTMAS Eve, and twelve of the clock.

“Now they are all on their knees," An elder said as we sat in a flock

By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where

They dwelt in their strawy pen, Nor did it occur to one of us there

To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave

In these years! Yet, I feel,
If some one said on Christmas Eve,

Come; see the oxen kneel

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb

Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

THOMAS HARDY

SYLVIA

Who is Sylvia? what is she,

That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair, and wise is she;

The heaven such grace did lend her,
That she might admired be.

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