Elegy VI. To a Lady, On the Language of Birds

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Come then, Dione, let us range the grove,
The science of the feather'd choirs explore
Hear linnets argue, larks descant of love,
And blame the gloom of solitude, no more.

My doubt subsides-'tis no Italian song,
Nor senseless ditty, cheers the vernal tree:
Ah! who that hears Dione's tuneful tongue,
Shall doubt that music may with sense agree?

And come, my Muse! that lov'st the sylvan shade,
Evolve the mazes, and the mist dispel;
Translate the song; convince my doubting maid
No solemn dervise can explain so well-

Pensive beneath the twilight shades I sate,
The slave of hopeless vows and cold disdain!
When Philomel address'd his mournful mate,
And thus I construed the mellifluent strain.

"Sing on, my bird!-the liquid notes prolong;
At every note a lover sheds his tear;
Sing on, my bird!-'tis Damon hears thy song,
Nor doubt to gain applause, when lovers hear.

"He the sad source of our complaining knows!
A foe to Tereus, and to lawless love!
He mourns the story of our ancient woes;
Ah! could our music his complaints remove!

"Yon plains are govern'd by a peerless maid;
And see! pale Cynthia mounts the vaulted sky;
A train of lovers court the chequer'd shade:
Sing on, my bird! and hear thy mate's reply.

"Erewhile no shepherd to these woods retired,
No lover bless'd the glow-worm's pallid ray;
But ill-starr'd birds, that, listening, not admired;
Or, listening, envied our superior lay.

"Cheer'd by the sun, the vassals of his power,
Let such by day unite their jarring strains!
But let us choose the calm; the silent hour,
Nor want fit audience while Dione reigns."

© William Shenstone