As now thy solitary flight
I faintly trace on high,
— A speck, a mist that melts in light,
Upon the sunset sky —
Seen from that lone and dizzy height,
The dwindled forest to thy sight
Shows like a shrub; the glen,
Like one of all its many flowers;
Cities, like molehills; peaks, like towers;
And sure, like emmets, men.
High, higher still, till the gone sun
Gleams on thy passing wing;
As now the shadows, deeply dun,
Come down, I see thee spring;
But thou the point hast reached, at last,
Whence the sure path, by instinct traced,
Thou clearly canst espy,
To stream or lake, or reedy shore,
Where haply thou hast built before,
And heard thy ducklings cry.
There choose thy mate and nurse thy brood;
Nor hawk nor man molest
Thy quiet haunt, till, on some eve
Like this, they quit their nest:
By savage Cola's bleak recess,
That to the hunter bars ingress,
And suns of sultry beam;
Or, where the water-lily sleeps,
Rustles the reed, the alder weeps,
By Lena's lakes and streams.
Lone bird! a happy lot hast thou —
An empire kings might envy — now
Pitching thy reedy tent
By summer cove or lake; now high,
In company with Liberty,
A wingèd emigrant.
A free, blithe wanderer of air,
Of joy or grief thou tak'st no care,
Save of the passing one;
The future, past, alike unspied,
All memory would vainly hide,
And fear as vainly shun.
The graves, beneath thy roving wing,
Of former mate or nurseling, bring
No tear into thine eye;
But thy affections still, though they
Their objects win, unwept decay,
And unregretted die.