WHY, ye tenants of the lake,
For me your wat’ry haunt forsake?
Tell me, fellow-creatures, why
At my presence thus you fly?
Why disturb your social joys,
Parent, filial, kindred ties?—
Common friend to you and me,
yature’s gifts to all are free:
Peaceful keep your dimpling wave,
Busy feed, or wanton lave;
Or, beneath the sheltering rock,
Bide the surging billow’s shock.
Conscious, blushing for our race,
Soon, too soon, your fears I trace,
Man, your proud, usurping foe,
Would be lord of all below:
Plumes himself in freedom’s pride,
Tyrant stern to all beside.
The eagle, from the cliffy brow,
Marking you his prey below,
In his breast no pity dwells,
Strong necessity compels:
But Man, to whom alone is giv’n
A ray direct from pitying Heav’n,
Glories in his heart humane—
And creatures for his pleasure slain!
In these savage, liquid plains,
Only known to wand’ring swains,
Where the mossy riv’let strays,
Far from human haunts and ways;
All on Nature you depend,
And life’s poor season peaceful spend.
Or, if man’s superior might
Dare invade your native right,
On the lofty ether borne,
Man with all his pow’rs you scorn;
Swiftly seek, on clanging wings,
Other lakes and other springs;
And the foe you cannot brave,
Scorn at least to be his slave.