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Wake-Robin   By: (1837-1921)

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First Page:

WAKE ROBIN

THE WRITINGS OF JOHN BURROUGHS

WITH PORTRAITS AND MANY ILLUSTRATIONS

VOLUME I

PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION

This is mainly a book about the Birds, or more properly an invitation to the study of Ornithology, and the purpose of the author will be carried out in proportion as it awakens and stimulates the interest of the reader in this branch of Natural History.

Though written less in the spirit of exact science than with the freedom of love and old acquaintance, yet I have in no instance taken liberties with facts, or allowed my imagination to influence me to the extent of giving a false impression or a wrong coloring. I have reaped my harvest more in the woods than in the study; what I offer, in fact, is a careful and conscientious record of actual observations and experiences, and is true as it stands written, every word of it. But what has interested me most in Ornithology is the pursuit, the chase, the discovery; that part of it which is akin to hunting, fishing, and wild sports, and which I could carry with me in my eye and ear wherever I went.

I cannot answer with much confidence the poet's inquiry,

"Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?"

but I have done what I could to bring home the "river and sky" with the sparrow I heard "singing at dawn on the alder bough." In other words, I have tried to present a live bird, a bird in the woods or the fields, with the atmosphere and associations of the place, and not merely a stuffed and labeled specimen.

A more specific title for the volume would have suited me better; but not being able to satisfy myself in this direction, I cast about for a word thoroughly in the atmosphere and spirit of the book, which I hope I have found in "Wake Robin," the common name of the white Trillium, which blooms in all our woods, and which marks the arrival of all the birds.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION TO RIVERSIDE EDITION I. THE RETURN OF THE BIRDS II. IN THE HEMLOCKS III. THE ADIRONDACKS IV. BIRDS' NESTS V. SPRING AT THE CAPITAL VI. BIRCH BROWSINGS VII. THE BLUEBIRD VIII. THE INVITATION INDEX

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

JOHN BURROUGHS Etched by W. H. W. Bicknell, from a daguerreotype PARTRIDGE'S NEST From a photograph by Herbert W. Gleason A CABIN IN THE ADIRONDACKS From a photograph by Clifton Johnson AMERICAN OSPREY, OR FISH HAWK (colored) From a drawing by L. A. Fuertes BIRD'S FOOT VIOLETS From a photograph by Herbert W. Gleason BLUEBIRD From a drawing by L. A. Fuertes

INTRODUCTION TO RIVERSIDE EDITION

In coming before the public with a newly made edition of my writings, what can I say to my reader at this stage of our acquaintance that will lead to a better understanding between us? Probably nothing. We understand each other very well already. I have offered myself as his guide to certain matters out of doors, and to a few matters indoor, and he has accepted me upon my own terms, and has, on the whole been better pleased with me than I had any reason to expect. For this I am duly grateful; why say more? Yet now that I am upon my feet, so as to speak, and palaver is the order, I will keep on a few minutes longer.

It is now nearly a quarter of a century since my first book, "Wake Robin," was published. I have lived nearly as many years in the world as I had lived when I wrote its principal chapters. Other volumes have followed, and still others. When asked how many there are, I often have to stop and count them up. I suppose the mother of a large family does not have to count up her children to say how many there are. She sees their faces all before her. It is said of certain savage tribes who cannot count above five, and yet who own flocks and herds, that every native knows when he has got all his own cattle, not by counting, but by remembering each one individually.

The savage is with his herds daily; the mother has the love of her children constantly in her heart; but when one's book goes forth from him, in a sense it never returns... Continue reading book >>




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