Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BIRD-BOY, by ROBERT BLOOMFIELD

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE BIRD-BOY, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Far weightier cares and wider scenes expand
Last Line: And curses on thee break his midnight rest.
Subject(s): Country Life

FAR weightier cares and wider scenes expand;
What devastation marks the new-sown land!
"From hungry woodland foes go, Giles, and guard
The rising wheat; insure its great reward:
A future sustenance, a summer's pride,
Demand thy vigilance: then be it tried:
Exert thy voice, and wield thy shotless gun:
Go, tarry there from morn till setting sun."
Keen blows the blast, or ceaseless rain descends;
The half-stript hedge a sorry shelter lends.
Oh for a hovel, e'er so small or low,
Whose roof, repelling winds and early snow,
Might bring home's comforts fresh before his eyes!
No sooner thought, than see the structure rise,
In some sequester'd nook, embank'd around,
Sod for its walls, and straw in burdens bound:
Dried fuel hoarded in his richest store,
And circling smoke obscures his little door,
Whence creeping forth, to duty's call he yields,
And strolls the Crusoe of the lonely fields.
On whitethorns towering, and the leafless rose,
A frost-nipt feast in bright vermilion glows:
Where clustering sloes in glossy order rise,
He crops the loaded branch; a cumbrous prize;
And o'er the flame the sputtering fruit he rests,
Placing green sods to seat his coming guests;
His guests by promise; playmates young and gay;
But ah! fresh pastimes lure their steps away!
He sweeps his hearth, and homeward looks in vain,
Till feeling disappointment's cruel pain,
His fairy revels are exchanged for rage,
His banquet marr'd, grown dull his hermitage.
The field becomes his prison, till on high
Benighted birds to shades and coverts fly.
Midst air, health, daylight, can he prisoner be?
If fields are prisons, where is liberty?
Here still she dwells, and here her votaries stroll;
But disappointed hope untunes the soul;
Restraints unfelt whilst hours of rapture flow,
When troubles press, to chains and barriers grow.
Look, then, from trivial up to greater woes;
From the poor bird-boy with his roasted sloes,
To where the dungeon'd mourner heaves the sigh;
Where not one cheering sunbeam meets his eye.
Though ineffectual pity thine may be,
No wealth, no power, to set the captive free;
Though only to thy ravish'd sight is given
The radiant path that Howard trod to Heaven;
Thy slights can make the wretched more forlorn,
And deeper drive affliction's barbed thorn.
Say not, "I'll come and cheer thy gloomy cell
With news of dearest friends; how good, how well:
I'll be a joyful herald to thine heart:"
Then fail, and play the worthless trifler's part,
To sip flat pleasures from thy glass's brim,
And waste the precious hour that's due to him.
In mercy spare the base, unmanly blow:
Where can he turn, to whom complain of you?
Back to past joys in vain his thoughts may stray,
Trace and retrace the beaten, worn-out way,
The rankling injury will pierce his breast,
And curses on thee break his midnight rest.

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