Wake-robin (Google eBook)

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David Douglas, 1884 - Birds - 304 pages
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Page 25 - Thrice welcome, darling of the spring! Even yet thou art to me No bird, but an invisible thing, A voice, a mystery...
Page 25 - Cuckoo ! shall I call thee bird, Or but a wandering Voice ? While I am lying on the grass Thy twofold shout I hear ; From hill to hill it seems to pass, At once far off and near. Though babbling only to the vale Of sunshine and of flowers, Thou bringest unto me a tale Of visionary hours. Thrice welcome, darling of the Spring ! Even yet thou art to me No bird, but an invisible thing, A voice...
Page 69 - I often hear him thus a long way off, sometimes over a quarter of a mile away, when only the stronger and more perfect parts of his music reach me ; and through the general chorus of wrens and warblers I detect this sound rising pure and serene, as if a spirit from some remote height were slowly chanting a divine accompaniment.
Page 78 - In this song you instantly detect his relationship to the water-wagtail, — erroneously called water-thrush, — whose song is likewise a sudden burst, full and ringing, and with a tone of youthful joyousness in it, as if the bird had just had some unexpected good fortune. For nearly two years this strain of the pretty walker was little more than a disembodied voice to me, and I was puzzled by it as Thoreau by his mysterious night-warbler, which, by the way, I suspect was no new bird at all, but...
Page 48 - See that sombre, ashen-colored pewee on yonder branch. A true sportsman he, who never takes his game at rest, but always on the wing. You vagrant fly, you purblind moth, beware how you come within his range! Observe his attitude, the curious movement of his head, his "eye in a fine frenzy rolling, glancing from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven.
Page 69 - O spheral, spheral!" he seems to say; "O holy, holy! O clear away, clear away! O clear up, clear up!" interspersed with the finest trills and the most delicate preludes. It is not a proud, gorgeous strain, like the tanager's or the grosbeak's; suggests no passion or emotion, — nothing personal, — but seems to be the voice of that calm, sweet solemnity one attains to in his best moments.
Page 276 - Who would give a hundred and twenty dollars to know about the birds?" said an Eastern governor half contemptuously to Wilson, as the latter solicited a subscription to his great work. Sure enough. Bought knowledge is dear at any price. The most precious things have no commercial value. It is not, your Excellency, mere technical knowledge of the birds that you are asked to purchase but a new interest in the fields and woods, a new moral and intellectual tonic, a new key to the treasure house of nature.
Page 277 - I had passed this hidden stretch of water, a pair of those mysterious thrushes, the gray-cheeked, flew up from the ground and perched on a low branch. Who can tell how much this duck, this footprint in the sand, and these strange thrushes from the far north, enhanced the interest and charm of the autumn woods? Ornithology cannot be satisfactorily learned from the books. The satisfaction is in learning it from nature. One must have an original experience with the birds. The books are only the guide,...
Page 69 - I detect this sound rising pure and serene, as if a spirit from some remote height were slowly chanting a divine accompaniment. This song appeals to the sentiment of the beautiful in me, and .suggests a serene religious beatitude as no other sound in nature does. It is perhaps more of an evening than a morning hymn, though I hear it at all hours of the day. It is very simple, and I can hardly tell the secret of its charm. "O spheral, spheral!" he seems to say; "O holy, holy! O clear away, clear away!...
Page 94 - in the upward slide, and with the peculiar z-ing of certain insects, but not destitute of a certain plaintive cadence. It is one of the most languid, unhurried sounds in all the woods. I feel like reclining upon the dry leaves at once. Audubon says he has never heard his love-song ; but this is all the love-song he has, and he is evidently a very plain hero with his little brown mistress.

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