Declare, if heav'nly wisdom bless thy tongue,
When teems the Mountain-Goat with promis'd young;
The stated seasons tell, the month explain,
When feels the bounding Hind a mother's pain;
While, in th' oppressive agonies of birth,
Silent they bow the sorrowing head to earth?
Why crop their lusty seed the verdant food?
Why leave their dams, to search the gloomy wood?
Say, whence the Wild-Ass wantons o'er the plain,
Sports uncontroul'd, unconscious of the rein?
'Tis his o'er scenes of solitude to roam,
The waste his house, the wilderness his home;
He scorns the crouded city's pomp and noise,
Nor heeds the driver's rod, nor hears his voice;
At will on ev'ry various verdure fed,
His pasture o'er the shaggy cliffs is spread.
Will the fierce Unicorn obey thy call,
Enslav'd to man, and patient of the stall?
Say, will he stubborn stoop thy yoke to bear,
And thro' the furrow drag the tardy share?
Say, canst thou think, O wretch of vain belief,
His lab'ring limbs will draw thy weighty sheaf?
Or canst thou tame the temper of his blood
With faithful feet to trace the destin'd road?
Who paints the Peacock's train with radiant eyes,
And all the bright diversity of dies?
Whose hand the stately Ostrich has supply'd
With glorious plumage, and her snowy pride?
Thoughtless she leaves amid the dusty way,
Her eggs, to ripen in the genial ray;
Nor heeds, that some fell beast, who thirsts for blood,
Or the rude foot may crush the future brood.
In her no love the tender offspring share,
No soft remembrance, no maternal care:
For God has steel'd her unrelenting breast,
Nor feeling sense, nor instinct mild imprest,
Bade her the rapid-rushing steed despise,
Outstrip the rider's rage, and tow'r amidst the skies.
Didst thou the Horse with strength and beauty deck?
Hast thou in thunder cloath'd his nervous neck?
Will he, like groveling grashoppers afraid,
Start at each sound, at ev'ry breeze dismay'd?
A cloud of fire his lifted nostrils raise,
And breathe a glorious terror as they blaze.
He paws indignant, and the valley spurns,
Rejoycing in his might, and for the battle burns.
When quivers rattle, and the frequent spear
Flies flashing, leaps his heart with languid fear?
Swallowing with fierce and greedy rage the ground,
"Is this, he cries, the trumpet's warlike sound?"
Eager he scents the battle from afar,
And all the mingling thunder of the war.
Flies the fierce Hawk by thy supreme command,
To seek soft climates, and a southern land?
Who bade th' aspiring Eagle mount the sky,
And build her firm aerial nest on high?
On the bare cliff, or mountain's shaggy steep,
Her fortress of defence she dares to keep;
Thence darts her radiant eye's pervading ray,
Inquisitive to ken the distant prey.
Seeks with her thirsty brood th' ensanguin'd plain,
There bathes her beak in blood, companion of the slain.