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Comes deeper, deeper day by day;
We stoop to hear,
As it draws near,
Its awfulness from far away.
At what it tells
We drop the shells
We were so full of yesterday,
And pick no more
But dream of brighter far away.
And o'er that tide
Far out and wide
The yearnings of our souls do stray;
We long to gɔ—
We do not know
Where it may be-but far away.
The mighty deep
Doth slowly creep
The waters roar
From shore to shore;
He calls us and we cannot stay; Soon shall we see
The land that's very far away.
THE BLACK OR GREAT OSTRICH.
HIS species of Ostrich measures from seven to nine feet from the top of the head to the ground: from the back, however, it is seldom more than three or four feet, the rest of its height being made up by its extremely long neck.
Up on the shore where we did The head is small, and, as well
The very sand,
Where we did stand
as the greater part of the neck, is covered only with a few scattered hairs. The feathers
A moment since, swept far away. of the body are black and loose;
Our playmates all, Beyond our call,
those of the wings and tail are of a snowy white, waved and long, having here and there a
Are passing hence, as we too may, tip of black. The wings are
Unto that shore
Beyond the boundless far away.
We'll trust the wave,
And Him to save,
furnished with spurs: the thighs are naked; and the feet strong, and of a gray-brown colour.
The sandy and burning deserts of Africa and Asia are
Beneath Whose feet as marble lay the only native homes of the
The rolling deep :
For He can keep
Our souls in that dim far away.
Black Ostriches. Here they are seen in flocks so large as sometimes to have been mistaken
There are many circumstances in the form and habits of this animal which show it to be
rest of the feathered race. It seems to form one of the links of union in the great chain of nature, connecting the winged
with the four-footed tribes. Its strong, robust legs, and (if we may venture so to call them) cloven hoofs, are well adapted both for speed and defence. The wings and all its feathers are insufficient to raise it from the ground. Its voice is a kind of hollow, mournful lowing, and it grazes on the plain with the zebra and other animals.
The ostriches frequently do great damage to the farmers in the interior of Southern Africa. They come in flocks into their fields, and destroy the ears of wheat so completely, that in a large tract of land it often happens that nothing but the bare straw is left behind. The body of the bird is not higher than the corn; and when it devours the ears, it bends down its long neck; so that at a little distance it cannot be seen; but on the least noise it rears its head, and generally contrives to escape before the farmer gets within gunshot of it.
When the ostrich runs, it has a proud and haughty look; and even when in extreme distress, never appears in great haste, especially if the wind is with it. Its wings are frequently of use in aiding its escape, for when the wind blows in the direction that
it is pursuing, it always flaps them. In this case the swiftest horse cannot overtake it; but if the weather is hot, and there is no wind, or if it has by any accident lost a wing, the difficulty of out-running it is not so great.
This bird itself is chiefly valuable for its plumage, and the Arabians have reduced the chase of it to a kind of science. They hunt it, we are told, on horseback, and begin their pursuit by a gentle gallop; for should they, at the outset, use the least rashness, the speed of the bird would immediately carry it out of their sight, and in a very short time beyond their reach; but when they proceed gradually, it makes no great effort to escape. It does not go in a straight line, but runs first to one side, then to the other.
This its pursuers
take advantage of, and, by rushing directly onward, save much ground. In a few days, at most, the strength of the animal is much exhausted, and it then either turns on the hunters, and fights with the fury of despair, or hides its head and tamely receives its fate.
Frequently the natives conceal themselves in the skin of
one of these birds, and by that means are able to approach near enough to surprise them.
Some persons keep ostriches in flocks, for they are tamed which they lay, the Arabians value them for their skins, which are used as a substitute for leather. Their flesh is esteemed by many as excellent food.
In a tame state it is very pleasant to observe with what dexterity they play and frisk about. In the heat of the day, particularly, they will strut along the sunny side of a house with great pomp, fanning themselves with their expanded wings, and seeming at every turn to admire their shadows. During most parts of the day, in hot climates, their wings are kept in a kind of quivering motion, as if designed principally to fan the body.
Ostriches will swallow with the utmost eagerness, rags, leather, wood, or even stones. "I saw one at Oran," says Dr. Shaw, "that swallowed, without any seeming uneasiness or inconvenience, several leaden bullets, as they were thrown
with very little trouble, and in their domestic state few animals can be rendered more
useful. Besides the valuable feathers they cast, and the eggs
Foot of Ostrich.
upon the floor scorching hot from the mould!"
This bird is mentioned in the book of Job, xxxix. 13, and five following verses. "Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich ? Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust, and forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers... What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider."
Several of the habits of this strange bird are here noted by the ancient inspired writer. One of its practices is to lay from thirty to fifty eggs in the sand, not placing them on branches of trees, or in clefts of the rock, as many other birds do. "Upon the least distant noise," writes a traveller in Eastern countries, "she forsakes her eggs or her young ones, to which perhaps she never returns; or, if she does, it may be too late, either to restore life to the one, or to preserve the life of the other.” The Arabs meet sometimes with whole nests of these eggs undisturbed, some of which are sweet and good, others spoiled. At times they also meet with young ones, no bigger than wellgrown pullets, half-starved, straggling about, and moaning, like so many distressed orphans, for their mothers. The ostrich may thus be said to be "hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers."
Job also mentions this bird in another passage, ch. xxx. 29, saying, in his deep sorrows, that he is "a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls" (or ostriches, as we read in the Margin). And Micah says, ch. i. 8, "I will make a wailing like the
dragons, and mourning as the owls," or ostriches. The allusion here is to the mournful voice of this bird. Dr. Shaw states that
during the lonesome part of the night they often make a doleful and hideous noise, which sometimes is like the roar of a lion; at other times it resembles the hoarser voices of other quadrupeds, particularly of the bull and the ox. I have often heard them groan, as if they were in the greatest agonies." Dr. Livingstone also says, "The silly ostrich makes a noise as loud [as the lion]..I have been careful to inquire the opinions of Europeans who have heard both, if they could detect any difference between the roar of a lion and that of an ostrich ; the invariable answer was, that they could not when the animal was at any distance. To this day I can distinguish between them with certainty only by knowing that the ostrich roars by day, and the lion by night.”
Dr. Livingstone estimates the fleetness of the ostrich as equalling that of our ordinary railway trains. Well may" she scorn the horse and his rider."
When it is terrified," says the great traveller, "one's eye can no more follow the legs than it can the spokes of a carriage