When soft May breezes fan th' awaking woods,
And with her fairy wand the blue-ey'd Spring
Touches the swelling blossoms and the buds,
"Waving with warm caresses twig and spray,
So dead and wither'd in their winter trance,
Then from his secret hole in mossy wall
Or hollow tree the striped squirrel peeps.
Then comes the saucy chipmunk from his den
To seek his food; he trips across the road,
He skims the stony wall or wayside rail,
Or, perch'd erect upon some swinging bough,
Loud chatters to his mate in endless talk.
High up each tree he clambers, now aloft
Swinging on tapering branch that tops the wood,
And now darts down the rough and gnarled boles,
Or skips across the sward from tree to tree,
Then oft the gunner comes with dire intent,
Or idle schoolboy in his holiday.
As fades the year and falls the shivering leaf
Forth come the village maidens to the wood,
To gather the blue grapes that load the vine
And dropping nuts that strew the forest floor.
Then frequent on the naked boughs is seen
The nimble squirrels. Now erect he sits
With plumy, bushy tail and uprais'd paws,
Seeking the nutty spoil; anon he leaps
From branch to branch, the gunner's easy prey.
Far in the West, where Illinois' great stream
Flows thro' the prairies islanded with groves,
The sleek black squirrels build their lofty nests,
And the fox-squirrel, noblest of his race,
Feeds on the bounteous mast that strews the ground;
At edge of corn-field, on some pasture-oak
Or towering chestnut, he delights to build,
And fills his granary with ivory nuts
And golden wheat and juicy Indian-corn.