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hawk, like a nighthawk, alternately soaring like a ripple and
tumbling a rod or two over and over, showing the under side of its
wings, which gleamed like a satin ribbon in the sun, or like the
pearly inside of a shell. This sight reminded me of falconry and what
nobleness and poetry are associated with that sport. The merlin it
seemed to me it might be called: but I care not for its name. It was
the most ethereal flight I had ever witnessed. It did not simply flutter
like a butterfly, nor soar like the larger hawks, but it sported with
proud reliance in the fields of air; mounting again and again with its
strange chuckle, it repeated its free and beautiful fall, turning over
and over like a kite, and then recovering from its lofty tumbling, as if
it had never set its foot on terra firma. It appeared to have no
companion in the universe-sporting there alone-and to need none but
the morning and the ether with which it played. It was not lonely, but
made all the earth lonely beneath it. Where was the parent which
hatched it, its kindred, and its father in the heavens? The tenant of
the air, it seemed related to the earth but by an egg hatched some
time in the crevice of a crag;- or was its native nest made in the
angle of a cloud, woven of the rainbow’s trimmings and the sunset
sky, and lined with some soft midsummer haze caught up from
earth? Its eyry now some cliffy cloud.

Beside this I got a rare mess of golden and silver and bright cupreous
fishes, which looked like a string of jewels. Ah! I have penetrated to
those meadows on the morning of many a first spring day, jumping
from hummock to hummock, from willow root to willow root, when
the wild river valley and the woods were bathed in so pure and
bright a light as would have waked the dead, if they had been
slumbering in their graves, as some suppose. There needs no
stronger proof of immortality. All things must live in such a light. O
Death, where was thy sting? O Grave, where was thy victory, then?

Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored
forests and meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of
wildness-to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the
meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the
whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl
builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the
ground. At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all
things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable,
that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by
us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature. We
must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic
features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living
and its decaying trees, the thunder-cloud, and the rain which lasts
three weeks and produces freshets. We need to witness our own
limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never
wander. We are cheered when we observe the vulture feeding on the
carrion which disgusts and disheartens us, and deriving health and
strength from the repast. There was a dead horse in the hollow by the
path to my house, which compelled me sometimes to go out of my
way, especially in the night when the air was heavy, but the
assurance it gave me of the strong appetite and inviolable health of
Nature was my compensation for this. I love to see that Nature is so
rife with life that myriads can be afforded to be sacrificed and
suffered to prey on one another; that tender organizations can be so
serenely squashed out of existence like pulp-tadpoles which herons
gobble up, and tortoises and toads run over in the road; and that
sometimes it has rained flesh and blood! With the liability to
accident, we must see how little account is to be made of it. The
impression made on a wise man is that of universal innocence.
Poison is not poisonous after all, nor are any wounds fatal.
Compassion is a very untenable ground. It must be expeditious. Its
pleadings will not bear to be stereo-typed.

Early in May, the oaks, hickories, maples, and other trees, just
putting out amidst the pine woods around the pond, imparted a
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