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And now, the downy hand of rest
Her signet on my eyes impressed,
And still the bright and balmy spell,
Like star-dew, o'er my fancy fell !
I thought that, all enrapt, I strayed
Through that serene, luxurious shade,
Where Epicurus taught the Loves
To polish virtue's native brightness,
Just as the beak of playful doves
Can give to pearls a smoother whiteness ? *
'Twas one of those delicious nights
So common in the climes of Greece,
When day withdraws but half its lights,
And all is moonshine, balm, and peace !
And thou wert there, my own beloved !
And dearly by thy side I roved
Through many a temple's reverend gloom,
And many a bower's seductive bloom,
Where beauty blushed and wisdom taught,
Where lovers sighed and sages thought,
Where hearts might feel or heads discern,
And all was formed to soothe or move,
To make the dullest love to learn,
To make the coldest learn to love!
And now the fairy pathway seemed
To lead us through enchanted ground,
Where all that bard has ever dreamed
Of love or luxury bloomed around !
Oh ! 'twas a bright, bewildering scene
Along the alley's deepening green
Soft lamps, that hung like burning flowers,
And scented and illumed the bowers,
Seemed as to him who darkling roves
Amid the lone Hercynian groves
Appear the countless birds of light
That sparkle in the leaves at night,
And from their wings diffuse a ray
Along the traveller's weary way!
'Twas light of that mysterious kind
Through which the soul is doomed to roam
When it has left this worid behind,
And gone to seek its heavenly home!
And, Nea, thou didst look and move,
Like any blooming soul of bliss
That wanders to its home above
Through mild and shadowy light like this !
But now, methought, we stole along
Through halls of more voluptuous glory * This method of polishing pearls, by leaving them awhile to be played with by doves, is mentioned by the fanciful Cardanus, de Rerum Varietat. lib. vii. cap. 34.
Than ever lived in Teian song,
Or wantoned in Milesian story!
And nymphs were there, whose very eyes
Seemed almost to exhale in sighs;
Whose every little ringlet thrilled,
As if with soul and passion filled!
Some flew, with amber cups, around,
Shedding the flowery wines of Crete,
And, as they passed with youthful bound,
The onyx shone beneath their feet!
While others, waving arms of snow
Entwined by snakes of burnished gold,
And showing limbs, as loth to show,
Through many a thin Tarentian fold,
Glided along the festal ring,
With vases, all respiring spring,
Where roses lay, in languor breathing,
And the young bee-grape, round them wreathing,
Hung on their blushes warm and meek,
Like curls upon a rosy cheek!
O Nea! why did morning break
The spell that so divinely bound me?
Why did I wake ? how could I wake,
With thee my own and heaven around me!
WELL-peace to thy heart, though another's it be,
And health to thy cheek, though it bloom not for me!
To-morrow, I sail for those cinnamon groves
Where nightly the ghost of the Carribee roves,
And, far from thine eye, oh! perhaps, I may yet
Its seduction forgive and its splendour forget!
Farewell to Bermuda, and long may the bloom
Of the lemon and myrtle its valleys perfume ;
May spring to eternity hallow the shade
Where Ariel has warbled and Waller has strayed !
And thou—when, at dawn, thou shalt happen to roam
Through the lime-covered alley that leads to thy home,
Where oft, when the dance and the revel were done,
And the stars were beginning to fade in the sun,
I have led thee along, and have told by the way
What my heart all the night had been burning to say,
Oh! think of the past-give a sigh to those times,
And a blessing for me to that alley of limes!
If I were yonder wave, my dear,
And thou the isle it clasps around,
I would not let a foot come near
My land of bliss, my fairy ground I
If I were yonder conch of gold,
And thou the pearl within it placed, I would not let an eye behold
The sacred gem my arms embraced ! If I were yonder orange-tree,
And thou the blossom blooming there I would not yield a breath of thee,
To scent the most imploring air ! Oh! bend not o'er the water's brink,
Give not the wave that rosy sigh, Nor let its burning mirror drink
The soft reflection of thine eye. That glossy hair, that glowing cheek,
Upon the billows pour their beam So warmly that my soul could seek
Its Nea in the painted streanı. The painted stream my chilly grave
And nuptial bed at once may be ; I'll wed thee in that mimic wave,
And die upon the shade of thee! Behold the leafy mangrove, bending
O'er the waters blue and bright,
Like Nea's silky lashes, lending
Shadow to her eyes of light!
O my beloved ! where'er I turn,
Some trace of thee enchants mine eyes,
In every star thy glances burn,
Thy blush on every floweret lies. But then thy breath !_not all the fire
That lights the lone Semenda's death, In eastern climes, could e'er respire
An odour like thy dulcet breath!
I pray thee, on those lips of thine
To wear this rosy leaf for me,
And breathe of something not divine,
Since nothing human breathes of thee !
All other charms of thine I meet
In nature, but thy sigh alone;
Then take, oh! take, though not so sweet,
The breath of roses for thine own!
So, while I walk the flowery grove,
The bud that gives, through morning dew, The lustre of the lips I love,
May seem to give their perfume too!
Tu potes insolitas, Cynthia. ferre nives?
Propert. lib. i. eleg. 8.
No, ne'er did the wave in its element steep
An island of lovelier charms;
It blooms in the giant embrace of the deep,
Like Hebe in Hercules' arms!
The tint of your bowers is balm to the eye,
Their melody balm to the ear;
But the fiery planet of day is too nigh,
And the Snow-Spirit never comes here !
The down from his wing is as white as the pearl
Thy lips for their cabinet stole,
And it falls on the green earth as melting, my gir.
As a murmur of thine on the soul !
Oh! fly to the clime where he pillows the death
As he cradles the birth of the year ;
Bright are your bowers and balmy their breath,
But the Snow-Spirit cannot come here!
How sweet to behold him, when, borne on the gale,
And brightening the bosom of morn,
He flings, like the priest of Diana, a veil
O'er the brow of each virginal thorn!
Yet think not the veil he so chillingly casts
Is the veil of a vestal severe ;
No, no, thou wilt see what a moment it lasts,
Should the Snow-Spirit ever come here!
But fly to his region-lay open thy zone,
And he'll weep all his brilliancy dim,
To think that a hosom, as white as his own,
Should not melt in the daybeam like him!
Oh! lovely the print of those delicate feet
O’er his luminous path will appear-
Fly! my beloved ! this island is sweet,
But the Snow-Spirit cannot come here!
Faint as the lids of maiden eyes
Beneath a lover's burning sighs!
Oh! for a naiad's sparry bower,
To shade me in that glowing hour!
A little dove, of milky hue,
Before me from a plantain flew,
And, light along the water's brim,
I steered my gentle bark by him ;
For fancy told me, love had sent
This snowy bird of blandishment,
To lead me, where my soul should meet-
I knew not what, but something sweet !
Blest be the little pilot dove!
He had indeed been sent by love,
To guide me to a scene so dear
As fate allows but seldom here;
One of those rare and brilliant hours
Which, like the aloe's lingering flowers,
May blossom to the eye of man
But once in all his weary span !
Just where the margin's opening shade
A vista from the waters made,
My bird reposed his silver plume
Upon a rich banana's bloom.
O vision bright ! O spirit fair!
What spell, what magic raised her there?
'Twas Nea! slumbering calm and mild,
And bloomy as the dimpled child
Whose spirit in elysium keeps
Its playful sabbath, while he sleeps !
The broad banana's green embrace
Hung shadowy round each tranquil grace ;
One little beam alone could win
The leaves to let it wander in,
And, stealing over all her charms,
From lip to cheek, from neck to arms,
It glanced around a fiery kiss,
All trembling, as it went, with bliss !
Her eyelid's black and silken fringe
Lay on her cheek, of vermil tinge,
Like the first ebon cloud that closes
Dark on evening's heaven of roses !
Her glances, though in slumber hid,
Seemed glowing through their ivory lid,
And o'er her lip's reflecting dew
A soft and liquid lustre threw,
Such as, declining dim and faint,
The lamp of some beloved saint
Doth shed upon a flowery wreath,
Which pious hands have hung beneath!