'Tis a fair haunt, a lovely scene
With vale and stream and woods between!
Yonder across the upland hill
The snowy sheep-flocks browse at will,
The cattle thro' the meadows sweep
Where springs the clover, fetlock deep,
The scented fields in swaths are laid
By the swart mower with his blade,
While up the winding dusty road
Creaks the big hay-team with its load;
While mingled notes of toil and play
Rejoice the night and charm the day.
The craggy woodpaths all around,
And thickets, with the hare abound;
Beneath some tussock close and warm
It makes his leafy shelter'd form,
Or 'neath a hollow tree or heap
Of stone-wall where the ivies creep,
And there when yelping dogs pursue
It, skulking, hideth, lost to view.
Secure from hound and hunter's greed,
At night it ventures forth to feed,
Nibbling the buds and grasses sweet
That cluster round its home-retreat,
Or feeds on berries that afford
A honey'd, an ambrosial hoard.
When e'er the evening shades pervade
The tangled copse and dusky glade,
The voices of the solemn night
Harmonious swell as fades the light.
The cawing crows, slow winging home,
Sound hoarsely in the falling gloom;
The cooing of the blue wood-dove
With plaintive wail pervades the grove;
The russet thrush its soul of song
Pours out melodies sweet and long;
The fern-owls through the shadows wheel,
The white moths from their coverts steal;
The rabbit then, when all is still,
Limps from his warren on the hill
To crop the clover of the ground,
Fearless of gun and cruel hound.
Then thro' the long moonlighted night
It gambols in the ghostly light,
Brushing the dews from shrub and grass
As round in circling wheels they pass,
Printing the turf as if a band
Of fays had come from fairy-land.