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The SWALLOWS; an ELEGY.
Ere yellow Autumn from our plains retired,
His roof a refuge to the feathered kind!
For this ev'n now they prune their vigorous wing, For this each other to the toil excite,
And prove their strength in many a sportive ring. 'No sorrow loads their breast, or dims their eye, To quit their wonted baunts, or native home; Nor fear they launching on the boundless sky, In search of future settlements to roam.
'They feel a power, an impulse all divine,
That warns them hence, they feel it and obey ; To this direction all their cares resign,
Unknown their destined stage, unmarked their way.
'Peace to your flight! ye mild, domestic race:
'See, Delia, on my roof your guests to-day,
To-morrow on my roof your guests no more;
So youthful joys fly like the Summer's gale,
And Nature's changeful scenes, the shifting stage!
That point the path to realms of endless joy, That bid our trembling hearts no danger fear, Though clouds surround, and angry skies annoy. Then let us wisely for our flight prepare,
Nor count this stormy world our fixed abode; Obey the call, and trust our Leader's care,
To smooth the rough and light the darksome road. Moses, by grant divine, led Israel's host
Through dreary paths to Jordan's fruitful side;
At length the Winter's howling blasts are o'er,
Again the daisies peep, the violets blow,
And see, my Delia, see o'er yonder stream,
Alike attracted by the sunny gleam,
Again the Swallows take their wonted way.
Again I'll listen to your grave debates,
Again I'll hear your twittering songs unfold What policy directs your wandering states,
What bounds are settled, and what tribes enrolled.
Again I'll hear you tell of distant lands,
What insect-nations rise from Egypt's mud,
Thrice happy race! whom Nature's call invites
But when yon radiant sun shall shine no more,
To plains ethereal, and celestial bow'rs,
Where wintry storms no rude access obtain,
MAY is so called from Maia, the mother of Mercury, to whom sacrifices were offered by the Romans on the first of this month; or, according to some, from respect to the senators and nobles of Rome, who were named Majores, as the following month was termed Junius, in honour of the youth of Rome. The Saxons called May, tri-milki, because, in that month, they began to milk their kine three times in the day.
ANTIENTLY, all ranks of people went out a maying early on the first of this month. The juvenile part of both sexes, in the north, were wont to rise a little after midnight, and walk to some neighbouring wood, accompanied with music and the blowing of horns; where they break down branches from the trees, and adorn them with nosegays and crowns of flowers. When this is done, they return with their booty homewards, about the rising of the sun, and make their doors and windows to triumph in the flowery spoil. The after part of the day is chiefly spent in dancing round a tall pole, which is called a May-pole; which being placed in a convenient part of the village, stands there, as it were, consecrated to the goddess of flowers, without the least violation offered it, in the whole circle of the year.'
The custom of going a maying is now confined wholly to the populace; and the milk-maids' garland' and chimney-sweepers' dance' are the most remarkable features of this annual celebration.
But even these amusements are very much upon the decline, both in town and country, and promise to be, in a few years, quite extinct. We may, indeed, already say, with the poet
No more in choral bands unite
Her virgin vot'ries, and at early dawn,
Brush the light dew-drops from the spangled lawn.
To her no more AUGUSTA's wealthy pride
Nor fresh-blown garlands village maids provide,
'Alluding to the country custom of gathering May-dew. ? The plate-garlands of London.
No more the MAYPOLE's verdant height around
Wake the loud carol and the sportive dance.
1. SAINT PHILIP AND SAINT JAMES THE LESS. Philip was born at Bethsaida, near the sea of Tiberias, the city of Andrew and Peter. He was one of the first disciples, and an apostle. James the Less, called also James the Just, and, by the apostle Paul, James, the Lord's brother, was the son of Joseph, afterwards husband to the Virgin Mary, as is probable by his first wife. The first of these martyrs was stoned to death, and the second, having been thrown from a high place, was killed by a fuller's staff.
*1. 1769.-DUKE OF WELLINGTON BORN.
Viewed with admiring gaze,
Cheered by a Nation's praise,
Crown them with length of days;
3.-INVENTION OF THE CROSS.
The Romish Church celebrates this day as a festival, to commemorate the invention or finding of a wooden cross, supposed to be the true one, by Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great.
6.-JOHN EVANGELIST, A. P. L.
John the Evangelist was a Galilean by birth, the son of Zebedee and Salome, the younger brother of James, but not of him that was surnamed the Just, and who was the brother of our Lord. Being carried prisoner to Rome, he was condemned to be thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil, but was miraculously preserved, and came out of it alive. He survived to the reign of Trajan, and died about ninety years of age.