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Another is when he describes two inseparable children as being unhappy if they are

more divided than a sportive pair

Of seafowl, conscious both that they are hovering
Within the eddy of a common blast,

Or hidden only by the concave depth

Of neighbouring billows from each other's sight.

The idea is excellent, although not worded so felicitously as usual.

Another feature of Wordsworth's use of birds is the frequency of his reference to their nests.

Here, thronged with primroses, the steep rock's breast
Glittered at evening like a starry sky;

And in this bush our sparrow built her nest,

Of which I sang one song that will not die.

The song here mentioned is The (hedge) Sparrow's Nest of 1801, beginning thus :

Behold, within the leafy shade,

Those bright blue eggs together laid!
On me the chance-discovered sight
Gleamed like a vision of delight.

The sight recalls an earlier experience, when, as a boy, he found a similar nest, which he and his sister constantly visited together. This in turn gives him the opportunity for that inimitable description of the fascination which the nest had for Dorothy.

She looked at it and seemed to fear it ;
Dreading, though wishing to be near it,
Such heart was in her, being then

A little prattler among men.

Compare with this that equally delicate tribute to Dorothy's sweet angelic disposition in To a Butterfly.

A very hunter did I rush

Upon the prey; with leaps and springs

I followed on from brake to bush ;

But she, God love her, feared to brush

The dust from off its wings.

The pathos of an old nest which has served its purpose, and is now deserted, does not pass unnoticed.

A single beech tree grew

Within this grove of firs! and on the fork
Of that one beech appeared a thrush's nest-
A last year's nest, conspicuously built
At such small elevation from the ground
As gave sure sign that they, who in that house
Of nature and of love had made their home
Amid the fir trees, all the summer long

Dwelt in a tranquil spot.

His most elaborate effort in this kind is his Wren's Nest, written in 1833. It extends to eighteen stanzas, so that we cannot make adequate quotation, but one or two verses may be given. It dwells particularly on the skill and artistic instinct dis

played by this tiny bird in the structure of a cosy


Among the dwellings framed by birds

In field or forest with nice care

Is none that with the little wren's

In snugness may compare.

No door the tenement requires

And seldom needs a laboured roof;
Yet is it to the fiercest sun

Impervious and storm-proof.

Then he proceeds to dilate upon birds' nests in general, how their architects love a "shadowy quietness," "sequestered lanes," and so on, some choosing more wisely than others.

This, one of those small builders proved
In a green covert, where from out

The forehead of a pollard oak

The leafy antlers sprout;

For she who planned the mossy lodge,
Mistrusting her evasive skill,

Had to a primrose looked for aid
Her wishes to fulfil.

He showed the nest "to some whose minds without disdain can turn to little things," and, looking for it some days later, found it gone, as he thought. He was wrong; the primrose leaves had expanded and covered it up.

Just three days after, passing by

ss-built cell

In clearer light, the moss

I saw-espied its shaded mouth

And felt that all was well.

The primrose for a veil had spread
The largest of her upright leaves;
And thus for purposes benign
A simple flower deceives.

Thus did Wordsworth, like Burns, "build a princely throne on humble truth," could breathe grandeur upon the very humblest face of human life, and could draw wholesome lessons from the contemplation of common things-lessons more edifying to him than those of learned books.

Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife.

Come hear the woodland linnet;

How sweet his music! On

my life

There's more of music in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher.
Come forth into the light of things:

Let Nature be your teacher.

Another bird poem was inspired by a wren that haunted for many years the summer-house between the two terraces at Rydal Mount. This unassuming shy little bird is used to point the contrast with a flaunting, dazzling, highly-coloured Australian parrot, ambitious to be seen and heard, as well

as pleased to be admired, and the poet naïvely asks of his daughter Dora whether she had rather be the parrot, caressed, applauded, fed upon dainties, or Nature's darkling of the mossy shed. There is no doubt which of the two Wordsworth wished his daughter to be.

This moss-lined shed, green, soft and dry,

Harbours a self-contented wren,

Not shunning man's abode, though shy
Almost as thought of human ken.

Strange places, coverts unendeared,

She never tried; the

very nest

In which this child of spring was reared

Is warmed through winter by her feathery breast.

To the bleak winds she sometimes gives

A slender, unexpected strain ;

Proof that the hermitess still lives,

Though she appear not and be sought in vain.

The wood-pigeon, as one might suppose, is a favourite with Wordsworth, as it is with most poets; the bird's homely note, its retired mode of life, its loving nature are all poetic in their appeal. We must explain, however, that Wordsworth makes a mistake in the naming of the bird; he calls it the stock-dove several times over.

Now, the habits

of the stock-dove are quite distinct from those of the ring - dove or wood - pigeon or cushat. The

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