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There chiefly I sought thee, there only I found thee;
SONG OF THE SOUTH-SEA ISLANDERS
How pleasant were the songs of Toobonai,
When summer's sun went down the coral bay!
Come, let us to the islet's softest shade,
And hear the warbling birds! the damsel said:
The wood-dove from the forest-depth shall coo,
Like voices of the gods from Boolotoo:
We'll cull the flowers that grow above the dead,
For these most bloom where rests the warrior's head;
And we will sit in twilight's face, and see
The sweet moon glancing through the tooa tree,
The lofty accents of whose sighing bough
Shall sadly please us as we lean below;
Or climb the steep, and view the surf in vain
Wrestle with rocky giants o'er the main,
Which spurn in columns back the baffled spray.
How beautiful are these! how happy they,
Who, from toil and tumult of their lives,
Steal to look down where nought but ocean strives!
Even he too loves at times the blue lagoon,
And smooths his ruffled mane beneath the moon.
Yes—from the sepulchre we'll gather flowers,
And, wet and shining from the sportive toil,
Anoint our bodies with the fragrant oil,
And plait our garlands gather'd from the grave,
And wear the wreaths that sprung from out the brave.
But lo! night comes, the Mooa woos us back,
The sound of mats are heard along our track; 3"
Anon the torchlight dance shall fling its sheen
In flashing mazes o'er the Marly's green;
And we too will be there; we too recall
The memory bright with many a festival,
Ere Fiji blew the shell of war, when foes
For the first time were wafted in canoes.
Alas! for them the flower of mankind bleeds:
Alas! for them our fields are rank with weeds:
Forgotten is the rapture, or unknown,
Of wandering with the moon and love alone. 40
But be it so:—they taught us how to wield
The club, and rain our arrows o'er the field:
Now let them reap the harvest of their art!
But feast to-night \ to-morrow we depart.
Strike up the dance! the cava bowl fill high!
Drain every drop !—to-morrow we may die.
In summer garments be our limbs array'd,
Around our waists the tappa's white display'd;
Thick wreaths shall form our coronal, like spring's,
And round our necks shall glance the hooni strings; 50
So shall their brighter hues contrast the glow
Of the dusk bosoms that beat high below.
But now the dance is o'er—yet stay awhile;
How lovely are your forms! how every sense
Bows to your beauties, soften'd, but intense, 6°
Like to the flowers on Mataloco's steep,
Which fling their fragrance far athwart the deep!
We too will see Licoo; but—oh! my heart!
What do I say ?—to-morrow we depart!
ON THIS DAY I COMPLETE MY THIRTYSIXTH YEAR
M1ssolongh1, Jan. 22, 1824.
TlS time this heart should be unmoved,
Since others it hath ceased to move:
My days are in the yellow leaf;
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
The fire that on my bosom preys
Is lone as some volcanic isle; 10 No torch is kindled at its blaze— A funeral pile.
The hope, the fear, the jealous care,
The exalted portion of the pain
But 'tis not thus—and 'tis not here—
Such thoughts should shake my soul, nor now,
Or binds his brow. 20
The sword, the banner, and the field,
Awake! (not Greece—she is awake!)
Awake, my spirit! Think through whom
Tread those reviving passions down,
Unworthy manhood !—unto thee 30 Indifferent should the smile or frown Of beauty be.
If thou regret'st thy youth, why live f
The land of honourable death
Seek out—less often sought than found—
A soldier's grave, for thee the best; Then look around, and choose thy ground, And take thy rest. 4°
CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE
The first two cantos of 'Childe Harold,' it would seem, were written incidentally and their publication was almost by accident. On his return from his first journey abroad Byron brought home a poem, the 'Imitation of Horace,' with which he hoped to follow up the success of'English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.' It was quite with indifference that he informed his friend Dallas that he had written, while abroad, also "a great many stanzas in Spenser's measure, relative to the countries he had visited." These stanzas apparently he regarded as of little worth and had scarcely thought of publishing. Dallas, however, persuaded him to publish them; and so 'Childe Harold ' saw the light.
The poem thus composed and printed owed little, accordingly, save its stanza, to literary tradition, and seems to be wholly original and spontaneous in design. External unity it has none, save in the perfunctory presence and personality of the Childe himself. There is enough of narrative, however, to suggest the epic genre, enough of description to suggest the didactic and idyllic poetry of the Eighteenth century, and enough of the movement and emotion of song to suggest the lyric. Indeed the real unity of the poem is in the personality of the poet, and the poet here as elsewhere is constantly and passionately personal and subjective. So that 'Childe Harold ' is more of a lyrical poem (in this restricted and modern sense) than anything else. It seems, indeed, superficially to answer to the description of "a glorified guide-book " and "a rhythmical diorama," which has been applied to it. But the presence of a potent poetic personality throughout keeps it always in the domain of high poetry, and renders it interesting and com.