« EelmineJätka »
Here lofty trees, to ancient song unknown,
The noble sons of potent heat and floods
Prone rushing from the clouds, rear high to Heaven
Their thorny stems, and broad around them throw
Meridian gloom. Here, in eternal prime,
Unnumber'd fruits of keen delicious taste
And vital spirit, drink amid the cliffs
And burning sands that bank the shrubby vales,
Redoubled day, yet in their rugged coats
A friendly juice to cool its rage contain.
Bear me, Pomona! to thy citron-groves;
To where the lemon and the piercing lime,
With the deep orange, glowing through the green,
Their lighter glories blend. Lay me reclin'd
Beneath the spreading tamarind that shakes,
Fann'd by the breeze, its fever-cooling fruit.
Deep in the night the massy locust sheds,
Quench my hot limbs; or lead me through the
Embowering endless, of the Indian fig;
Or, thrown at gayer ease, on some fair brow,
Let me behold, by breezy murmurs cool'd,
Broad o'er my head the verdant cedar wave,
And high palmettoes lift their graceful shade.
Or, stretch'd amid these orchards of the Sun,
Give me to drain the cocoa's milky bowl,
And from the palm to draw its freshening wine!
More bounteous far than all the frantic juice
Which Bacchus pours. Nor, on its slender twigs
Low-bending, be the full pomegranate scorn'd;
Nor, creeping through the woods, the gelid race
Of berries. Oft in humble station dwells
Unboastful worth, above fastidious pomp.
Witness, thou best Anâna, thou the pride
Of vegetable life, beyond whate'er
The poets imag'd in the golden age:
Quick let me strip thee of thy tufty coat,
Spread thy ambrosial stores, and feast with Jove!
From these the prospect varies. Plains immense
Lie stretch'd below, interminable meads,
And vast savannas, where the wandering eye,
Unfix'd, is in a verdant ocean lost.
Another Flora there, of bolder hues,
And richer sweets, beyond our garden's pride,
Plays o'er the fields, and showers with sudden hand
Exuberant Spring; for oft these valleys shift
Their green-embroider'd robe to fiery brown,
And swift to green again, as scorching suns,
Or streaming dews and torrent rains, prevail.
Along these lonely regions, where, retir'd
From little scenes of art, great Nature dwells
In awful solitude, and nought is seen
But the wild herds that own no master's stall,
Prodigious rivers roll their fattening seas;
On whose luxuriant herbage, half-conceal'd,
Like a fall'n cedar, far diffus'd his train,
Cas'd in green scales, the crocodile extends.
The flood disparts: behold! in plaited mail,
Behemoth rears his head. Glanc'd from his side,
The darted steel in idle shivers flies:
He fearless walks the plain, or seeks the hills; Where, as he crops his varied fare, the herds, In widening circle round, forget their food, And at the harmless stranger wondering gaze. Peaceful, beneath primeval trees, that cast Their ample shade o'er Niger's yellow stream, And where the Ganges rolls his sacred wave; Or mid the central depth of blackening woods, High rais'd in solemn theatre around,
*The hippopotamus, or river-horse.
Leans the huge elephant: wisest of brutes!
O truly wise! with gentle might endow'd,
Though powerful, not destructive! Here he sees
Revolving ages sweep the changeful earth,
And empires rise and fall; regardless he
Of what the never-resting race of men
Project: thrice happy! could he 'scape their guile,
Who mine, from cruel avarice, his steps;
Or with his towery grandeur swell their state,
The pride of kings! or else his strength pervert,
And bid him rage amid the mortal fray,
Astonish'd at the madness of mankind.
Wide o'er the winding umbrage of the floods,
Like vivid blossoms glowing from afar,
Thick swarm the brighter birds. For Nature's hand,
That with a sportive vanity has deck'd
The plumy nations, there her gayest hues
Profusely pours. But, if she bids them shine,
Array'd in all the beauteous beams of day,
Yet, frugal still, she humbles them in song.t
Nor envy we the gaudy robes they lent
Proud Montezuma's realm, whose legions cast
A boundless radiance waving on the Sun,
While Philomel is ours; while in our shades,
Through the soft silence of the listening night,
The sober-suited songstress trills her lay.
But come, my Muse, the desert-barrier burst, A wild expanse of lifeless sand and sky: And, swifter than the toiling caravan, Shoot o'er the vale of Sennar; ardent climb The Nubian mountains, and the secret bounds Of jealous Abyssinia boldly pierce. Thou art no ruffian, who beneath the mask Of social commerce com'st to rob their wealth; No holy Fury thou, blaspheming Heaven, With consecrated steel to stab their peace, And through the land, yet red from civil wounds, To spread the purple tyranny of Rome. Thou, like the harmless bee, may'st freely range From mead to mead, bright with exalted flowers, From jasmine grove to grove, may'st wander gay, Through palmy shades and aromatic woods, That grace the plains, invest the peopled hills, And up the more than Alpine mountains wave. There on the breezy summit, spreading fair, For many a league; or on stupendous rocks, That from the sun-redoubling valley lift, Cool to the middle air, their lawny tops; Where palaces, and fanes, and villas rise; And gardens smile around, and cultur'd fields; And fountains gush; and careless herds and flocks Securely stray; a world within itself, Disdaining all assault: there let me draw Ethereal soul, there drink reviving gales, Profusely breathing from the spicy groves, And vales of fragrance; there at distance hear The roaring floods, and cataracts, that sweep From disembowell'd Earth the virgin gold; And o'er the varied landscape, restless, rove, Fervent with life of every fairer kind : A land of wonders! which the Sun still eyes With ray direct, as of the lovely realm Enamour'd, and delighting there to dwell. How chang'd the scene! In blazing height of The Sun, oppress'd, is plung'd in thickest gloom. Still Horror reigns, a dreary twilight round,
In all the regions of the torrid zone, the birds, though more beautiful in their plumage, are observed to be less melodious than ours.
Of struggling night and day malignant mix'd.
For to the hot equator crowding fast,
Where, highly rarefied, the yielding air
Admits their stream, incessant vapors roll,
Amazing clouds on clouds continual heap'd!
Or whirl'd tempestuous by the gusty wind,
Or silent borne along, heavy, and slow,
With the big stores of steaming oceans charg'd.
Meantime, amid these upper seas, condens'd
Around the cold aërial mountain's brow,
And by conflicting winds together dash'd,
The Thunder holds his black tremendous throne:
From cloud to cloud the rending Lightnings rage;
Till, in the furious elemental war
Dissolv'd, the whole precipitated mass,
Unbroken floods and solid torrents pours.
The treasures these, hid from the bounded search
Of ancient knowledge; whence, with annual pomp,
Rich king of floods! o'erflows the swelling Nile.
From his two springs, in Gojam's sunny realm,
Pure welling out, he through the lucid lake
Of fair Dambea rolls his infant stream.
There, by the Naïads nurs'd, he sports away
His playful youth, amid the fragrant isles,
That with unfading verdure smile around.
Ambitious, thence the manly river breaks;
And, gathering many a flood, and copious fed
With all the mellow'd treasures of the sky,
Winds in progressive majesty along :
Through splendid kingdoms now devolves his maze,
Now wanders wild o'er solitary tracts
Of life-deserted sand: till, glad to quit
The joyless desert, down the Nubian rocks
From thundering steep to steep, he pours his urn,
And Egypt joys beneath the spreading wave.
His brother Niger, too, and all the floods
In which the full-form'd maids of Afric lave
Their jetty limbs; and all that form the tract
Of woody mountains stretch'd through gorgeous Ind
Fall on Cormandel's coast, or Malabar;
From Menam's orient stream,* that nightly shines
With insect-lamps, to where Aurora sheds
On Indus' smiling banks the rosy shower:
All, at this bounteous season, ope their urns,
And pour untoiling harvest o'er the land.
Nor less thy world, Columbus, drinks, refresh'd,
The lavish'd moisture of the melting year.
Wide o'er his isles, the branching Oronoque
Rolls a brown deluge; and the native drives
To dwell aloft on life-sufficing trees,
At once his dome, his robe, his food, and arms.
Swell'd by a thousand streams, impetuous hurl'd
From all the roaring Andes, huge descends
The mighty Orellana.† Scarce the Muse
Dares stretch her wing o'er this enormous mass
Of rushing water; scarce she dares attempt
The sea-like Plata; to whose dread expanse,
Continuous depth, and wondrous length of course,
Our floods are rills. With unabated force,
In silent dignity they sweep along,
And many a nation feed, and circle safe,
In their soft bosom, many a happy isle;
The seat of blameless Pan, yet undisturb'd
By Christian crimes and Europe's cruel sons.
Thus pouring on they proudly seek the deep,
Whose vanquish'd tide, recoiling from the shock,
Yields to the liquid weight of half the globe;
And Ocean trembles for his green domain.
But what avails this wondrous waste of wealth?
This gay profusion of luxurious bliss?
This pomp of Nature? what their balmy meads,
Their powerful herbs, and Ceres void of pain?
By vagrant birds dispers'd, and wafting winds,
What their unplanted fruits? what the cool draughts,
Th' ambrosial food, rich gums, and spicy health,
Their forests yield? their toiling insects what,
Their silky pride, and vegetable robes?
Ah! what avail their fatal treasures, hid
Deep in the bowels of the pitying Earth,
Golconda's gems, and sad Potosi's mines;
Where dwelt the gentlest children of the Sun ?
What all that Afric's golden rivers roll,
Her odorous woods, and shining ivory stores ?
Ill-fated race! the softening arts of peace,
Whate'er the humanizing Muses teach;
The godlike wisdom of the temper'd breast;
Progressive truth, the patient force of thought;
Investigation calm, whose silent powers
Command the world; the light that leads to Heaven,
Kind equal rule, the government of laws,
And all-protecting freedom, which alone
Sustains the name and dignity of man:
These are not theirs. The parent Sun himself
Seems o'er this world of slaves to tyrannize;
And, with oppressive ray, the roseate bloom
Of beauty blasting, gives the gloomy hue,"
And feature gross or worse, to ruthless deeds,
Mad jealousy, blind rage, and fell revenge,
Their fervid spirit fires. Love dwells not there.
The soft regards, the tenderness of life,
The heart-shed tear, th' ineffable delight
Of sweet humanity: these court the beam
Of milder climes; in selfish fierce desire,
And the wild fury of voluptuous sense,
There lost. The very brute creation there
This rage partakes, and burns with horrid fire.
Lo! the green serpent, from his dark abode,
Which ev'n imagination fears to tread,
At noon forth issuing, gathers up his train
In orbs immense, then, darting out anew,
Seeks the refreshing fount; by which diffus'd,
He throws his folds: and while, with threatening
And deathful jaws erect, the monster curls
His flaming crest, all other thirst appall'd,
Or shivering flies, or check'd at distance stands,
Nor dares approach. But still more direful he,
The small close-lurking minister of Fate,
Whose high-concocted venom through the veins
A rapid lightning darts, arresting swift
And traverse realms unknown, and blooming wilds, The vital current. Form'd to humble man,
And fruitful deserts, worlds of solitude,
Where the Sun smiles and Seasons teem in vain,
Unseen and unenjoy'd. Forsaking these,
O'er peopled plains they far-diffusive flow,
This child of vengeful nature! There, sublim'd
To fearless lust of blood, the savage race
Roam, licens'd by the shading hour of guilt,
And foul misdeed, when the pure day has shut
His sacred eye. The tiger darting fierce
Impetuous on the prey his glance has doom'd:
* The river that runs through Siam; on whose banks
a vast number of those insects called fire-flies make a The lively-shining leopard, speckled o'er
beautiful appearance in the night.
†The river of the Amazons.
With many a spot, the beauty of the waste
And, scorning all the taming arts of man,
The keen hyena, fellest of the fell.
These, rushing from th' inhospitable woods
Of Mauritania, or the tufted isles
That verdant rise amid the Libyan wild,
Innumerous glare around their shaggy king,
Majestic, stalking o'er the printed sand;
And, with imperious and repeated roars,
Demand their fated food. The fearful flocks
Crowd near the guardian swain; the nobler herds,
Where round their lordly bull, in rural ease,
They ruminating lie, with horror hear
The coming rage. Th' awaken'd village starts;
And to her fluttering breast the mother strains
Her thoughtless infant. From the pirate's den,
Or stern Morocco's tyrant-fang escap'd,
The wretch half-wishes for his bonds again:
While, uproar all, the wilderness resounds,
From Atlas eastward to the frighted Nile.
Unhappy he who from the first of joys,
Society, cut off, is left alone
Amid this world of death. Day after day,
Sad on the jutting eminence he sits,
And views the main that ever toils below;
Still fondly forming in the farthest verge,
Where the round ether mixes with the wave,
Ships, dim discover'd, dropping from the clouds;
At evening, to the setting Sun he turns
A mournful eye, and down his dying heart
Sinks helpless; while the wonted roar is up,
And hiss continual through the tedious night.
Yet here, ev'n here, into these black abodes
Of monsters unappall'd, from stooping Rome,
And guilty Cæsar, liberty retir'd,
Her Cato following through Numidian wilds:
Disdainful of Campania's gentle plains,
And all the green delights Ausonia pours;
When for them she must bend the servile knee,
And fawning take the splendid robber's boon.
Nor stop the terrors of these regions here:
Commission'd demons oft, angels of wrath,
Let loose the raging elements. Breath'd hot,
From all the boundless furnace of the sky,
And the wide glittering waste of burning sand,
A suffocating wind the pilgrim smites
With instant death. Patient of thirst and toil,
Son of the desert! even the camel feels,
Shot through his wither'd heart, the fiery blast.
Or from the black-red ether, bursting broad,
Sallies the sudden whirlwind. Straight the sands,
Commov'd around, in gathering eddies play:
Nearer and nearer still, they darkening come;
Till, with the general all-involving storm
Swept up, the whole continuous wilds arise;
And by their noon-day fount dejected thrown,
Or sunk at night in sad disastrous sleep,
Beneath descending hills, the caravan
Is buried deep. In Cairo's crowded streets
Falsely serene, deep in a cloudy speckt
Compress'd, the mighty tempest brooding dwells:
Of no regard, save to the skilful eye,
Fiery and foul, the small prognostic hangs
Aloft, or on the promontory's brow
Musters its force. A faint deceitful calm,
A fluttering gale the demon sends before,
To tempt the spreading sail. Then down at once,
Precipitant, descends a mingled mass
Of roaring winds, and flame, and rushing floods.
In wild amazement fix'd, the sailor stands.
Art is too slow: by rapid Fate oppress'd,
His broad-wing'd vessel drinks the whelming tide,
Hid in the bosom of the black abyss.
With such mad seas the daring Gamat fought,
For many a day, and many a dreadful night,
Incessant, laboring round the stormy Cape;
By bold ambition led, and bolder thirst
Of gold. For then from ancient gloom emerg'd
The rising world of trade: the genius, then,
Of navigation, that, in hopeless sloth,
Had slumber'd on the vast Atlantic deep,
For idle ages, starting, heard at last
The Lusitanian prince; who, Heaven-inspir'd,
To love of useful glory rous'd mankind,
And in unbounded commerce mix'd the world.
Increasing still the terrors of these storms,
His jaws horrific arm'd with threefold fate,
Here dwells the direful shark. Lur'd by the scent
Of steaming crowds, of rank disease, and death,
Behold! he rushing cuts the briny flood,
Swift as the gale can bear the ship along;
And, from the partners of that cruel trade,
Which spoils unhappy Guinea of her sons,
Demands his share of prey; demands themselves.
The stormy Fates descend: one death involves
Tyrants and slaves; when straight, their mangled
Crashing at once, he dyes the purple seas
With gore, and riots in the vengeful meal.
When o'er this world, by equinoctial rains
Flooded immense, looks out the joyless Sun,
And draws the copious steam: from swampy fens
Where putrefaction into life ferments,
And breathes destructive myriads: or from woods,
Impenetrable shades, recesses foul,
In vapors rank and blue corruption wrapt,
Whose gloomy horrors yet no desperate foot
Has ever dar'd to pierce; then, wasteful, forth
Walks the dire power of pestilent Disease.
A thousand hideous fiends her course attend,
Sick Nature blasting, and to heartless woe,
And feeble desolation, casting down
The towering hopes and all the pride of man:
Such as, of late, at Carthagena quench'd
The British fire. You, gallant Vernon, saw
The miserable scene; you, pitying, saw
Th' impatient merchant, wondering, waits in vain, To infant weakness sunk the warrior's arm;
And Mecca saddens at the long delay.
But chief at sea, whose every flexile wave
Obeys the blast, th' aërial tumult swells.
In the dread Ocean, undulating wide,
Beneath the radiant line that girts the globe,
The circling Typhon,* whirl'd from point to point, Exhausting all the rage of all the sky,
And dire Ecnephia* reign. Amid the heavens,
Saw the deep-racking pang, the ghastly form, The lip pale quivering, and the beamless eye
† Called by sailors the ox-eye, being in appearance at first no bigger.
Vasco de Gama, the first who sailed round Africa, by the Cape of Good Hope, to the East Indies.
§ Don Henry, third son to John the First, king of Portugal. His strong genius to the discovery of new coun.
* Typhon and Ecnephia, names of particular storms or tries was the chief source of all the modern improve. hurricanes, known only between the tropics.
No more with ardor bright: you heard the groans
Of agonizing ships from shore to shore;
Heard, nightly plung'd amid the sullen waves,
The frequent corse; while, on each other fix'd,
In sad presage, the blank assistants seem'd,
Silent, to ask, whom Fate would next demand.
What need I mention those inclement skies,
Where, frequent o'er the sickening city, Plague,
The fiercest child of Nemesis divine,
Descends?* From Ethiopia's poison'd woods,
From stifled Cairo's filth, and fetid fields
With locust-armies putrefying heap'd,
This great destroyer sprung.
Her awful rage
The brutes escape: man is her destin'd prey,
Intemperate man! and, o'er his guilty domes,
She draws a close incumbent cloud of death;
Uninterrupted by the living winds,
Forbid to blow a wholesome breeze; and stain'd
With many a mixture by the Sun, suffus'd,
Of angry aspect. Princely wisdom, then,
Dejects his watchful eye; and from the hand
Of feeble justice, ineffectual, drop
The sword and balance: mute the voice of joy,
And hush'd the clamor of the busy world.
Empty the streets, with uncouth verdure clad;
Into the worst of deserts sudden turn'd
The cheerful haunt of men, unless escap'd [reigns,
From the doom'd house, where matchless horror
Shut up by barbarous fear, the smitten wretch,
With frenzy wild, breaks loose; and, loud to Heaven
Screaming, the dreadful policy arraigns,
Inhuman, and unwise. The sullen door,
Yet uninfected, on its cautious hinge
Fearing to turn, abhors society:
Dependants, friends, relations, Love himself,
Savag'd by woe, forget the tender tie,
The sweet engagement of the feeling heart.
But vain their selfish care: the circling sky,
The wide enlivening air, is full of fate;
And struck by turns, in solitary pangs
They fall, unblest, untended, and unmourn'd.
Thus o'er the prostrate city black Despair
Extends her raven wing; while, to complete
The scene of desolation, stretch'd around,
The grim guards stand, denying all retreat,
And give the flying wretch a better death.
Much yet remains unsung: the rage intense
Of brazen-vaulted skies, of iron fields,
A reddening gloom, a magazine of fate,
Ferment; till by the touch ethereal rous'd,
The dash of clouds, or irritating war
Of fighting winds, while all is calm below,
They furious spring. A boding silence reigns,
Dread through the dun expanse; save the dull sound
That from the mountain, previous to the storm,
Rolls o'er the muttering earth, disturbs the flood,
And shakes the forest-leaf without a breath.
Prone, to the lowest vale, th' aerial tribes
Descend the tempest-loving raven scarce
Dares wing the dubious dusk. In rueful gaze
The cattle stand, and on the scowling Heavens
Cast a deploring eye, by man forsook,
Who to the crowded cottage hies him fast,
Or seeks the shelter of the downward cave.
"Tis listening fear and dumb amazement all:
When to the startled eye the sudden glance
Appears far south, eruptive through the cloud;
And following slower, in explosion vast,
The thunder raises his tremendous voice.
At first, heard solemn o'er the verge of Heaven,
The tempest growls; but as it nearer comes,
And rolls its awful burden on the wind,
The lightnings flash a larger curve, and more
The noise astounds: till over-head a sheet
Of livid flame discloses wide; then shuts,
And opens wider; shuts and opens still
Expansive, wrapping ether in a blaze.
Follows the loosen'd aggravated roar,
Enlarging, deepening, mingling; peal on peal
Crush'd horrible, convulsing Heaven and Earth.
Down comes a deluge of sonorous hail,
Or prone descending rain. Wide rent, the clouds
Pour a whole flood; and yet, its flame unquench'd,
Th' unconquerable lightning struggles through,
Ragged and fierce, or in red whirling balls,
And fires the mountains with redoubled rage.
Black from the stroke, above, the smouldering pine
Stands a sad shatter'd trunk; and, stretch'd below,
A lifeless group, the blasted cattle lie:
Here the soft flocks, with that same harmless look
They wore alive, and ruminating still
In Fancy's eye; and there the frowning bull,
An ox half-rais'd. Struck on the castled cliff,
The venerable tower and spiry fane
Resign their aged pride. The gloomy woods
Start at the flash, and from their deep recess,
Where drought and famine starve the blasted year: Wide-flaming out, their trembling inmates shake.
Fir'd by the torch of noon to ten-fold rage,
Th' infuriate hill that shoots the pillar'd flame;
And, rous'd within the subterranean world,
Th' expanding earthquake, that resistless shakes
Aspiring cities from their solid base,
And buries mountains in the flaming gulf.
But 'tis enough; return, my vagrant Muse:
A nearer scene of horror calls thee home.
Behold, slow-settling o'er the lurid grove,
Unusual darkness broods; and growing gains
The full possession of the sky, surcharg'd
With wrathful vapor, from the secret beds,
Where sleep the mineral generations, drawn.
Thence nitre, sulphur, and the fiery spume
Of fat bitumen, steaming on the day,
With various-tinctur'd trains of latent flame,
Pollute the sky, and in yon baleful cloud,
*These are the causes supposed to be the first origin of the plague, in Dr. Mead's elegant book on that sub. ject.
Amid Carnarvon's mountains rages loud
The repercussive roar: with mighty crush,
Into the flashing deep, from the rude rocks
Of Penmenmaur heap'd hideous to the sky,
Tumble the smitten cliffs; and Snowden's peak,
Dissolving, instant yields his wintry load.
Far-seen, the heights of heathy Cheviot blaze,
And Thulé bellows through her utmost isles.
Guilt hears appall'd, with deeply-troubled thought
And yet not always on the guilty head
Descends the fated flash. Young Celadon
And his Amelia were a matchless pair;
With equal virtue form'd, and equal grace,
The same, distinguish'd by their sex alone:
Hers the mild lustre of the blooming morn,
And his the radiance of the risen day.
They lov'd: but such their guileless passion was
As in the dawn of time inform'd the heart
Of innocence and undissembling truth.
"Twas friendship, heighten'd by the mutual wish,
Th' enchanting hope, and sympathetic glow,
Beam'd from the mutual eye. Devoting all
To love, each was to each a dearer self;
Supremely happy in th' awaken'd power
Of giving joy. Alone, amid the shades,
Still in harmonious intercourse they liv'd
The rural day, and talk'd the flowing heart,
Or sigh'd and look'd unutterable things.
So pass'd their life, a clear united stream,
By care unruffled; till, in evil hour,
The tempest caught them on the tender walk,
Heedless how far, and where its mazes stray'd,
While, with each other blest, creative love
Still bade eternal Eden smile around.
Presaging instant fate, her bosom heav'd
Unwonted sighs, and stealing oft a look
Of the big gloom, on Celadon her eye
Fell tearful, wetting her disorder'd cheek.
In vain assuring love, and confidence
In Heaven, repress'd her fear; it grew, and shook
Her frame near dissolution. He perceiv'd
Th' unequal conflict; and as angels look
On dying saints, his eyes compassion shed,
With love illumin'd high. Fear not," he said,
"Sweet innocence! thou stranger to offence,
And inward storm! He, who yon skies involves
In frowns of darkness, ever smiles on thee
With kind regard. O'er thee the secret shaft
That wastes at midnight, or th' undreaded hour
Of noon, flies harmless: and that very voice
Which thunders terror through the guilty heart,
With tongues of seraphs whispers peace to thine.
"Tis safety to be near thee sure, and thus
To clasp perfection!" From his void embrace,
Mysterious Heaven! that moment, to the ground,
A blacken'd corse, was struck the beauteous maid.
But who can paint the lover, as he stood,
Pierc'd by severe amazement, hating life,
Speechless, and fix'd in all the death of woe?
So, faint resemblance! on the marble tomb,
The well-dissembled mourner stooping stands,
For ever silent, and for ever sad.
With arms and legs according well, he makes,
As humor leads, an easy-winding path:
While, from his polish'd sides, a dewy light
Effuses on the pleas'd spectators round.
This is the purest exercise of health,
The kind refresher of the summer heats;
Nor, when cold winter keens the brightening flood,
Would I, weak-shivering, linger on the brink.
Thus life redoubles, and is oft preserv'd,
By the bold swimmer, in the swift illapse
Of accident disastrous. Hence the limbs
Knit into force; and the same Roman arm,
That rose victorious o'er the conquer'd Earth,
First learn'd, while tender, to subdue the wave.
Even from the body's purity, the mind
Receives a secret sympathetic aid.
Close in the covert of an hazel copse,
Where winded into pleasing solitudes
Runs out the rambling dale, young Damon sat
Pensive, and pierc'd with love's delightful pangs.
There to the stream that down the distant rocks
Hoarse-murmuring fell, and plaintive breeze that
Among the bending willows, falsely he
Of Musidora's cruelty complain'd.
She felt his flame; but deep within her breast,
In bashful coyness, or in maiden pride,
The soft return conceal'd; save when it stole
In sidelong glances from her downcast eye,
Or from her swelling soul in stifled sighs.
Touch'd by the scene, no stranger to his vows,
He fram'd a melting lay, to try her heart;
And, if an infant passion struggled there,
To call that passion forth. Thrice-happy swain!
A lucky chance, that oft decides the fate
Of mighty monarchs, then decided thine.
For, lo conducted by the laughing Loves,
This cool retreat his Musidora sought:
Warm in her cheek the sultry season glow'd;
And, rob'd in loose array, she came to bathe
Her fervent limbs in the refreshing stream.
As from the face of Heaven the shatter'd clouds What shall he do? In sweet confusion lost,
Tumultuous rove, th' interminable sky
Sublimer swells, and o'er the world expands
A purer azure. Through the lighten'd air
A higher lustre and a clearer calm,
Diffusive, tremble; while, as if in sign
Of danger past, a glittering robe of joy,
Set off abundant by the yellow ray,
Invests the fields; and Nature smiles reviv'd.
"Tis beauty all, and grateful song around,
Join'd to the low of kine, and numerous bleat
Of flocks thick-nibbling through the clover'd vale.
And shall the hymn be marr'd by thankless man,
Most favor'd; who with voice articulate
Should lead the chorus of this lower world?
Shall he, so soon forgetful of the hand
That hush'd the thunder, and serenes the sky,
Extinguish'd feel that spark the tempest wak'd,
That sense of powers exceeding far his own,
Ere yet his feeble heart has lost its fears?
Cheer'd by the milder beam, the sprightly youth
Speeds to the well-known pool, whose crystal depth
A sandy bottom shows. Awhile he stands
Gazing th' inverted landscape, half afraid
To meditate the blue profound below;
Then plunges headlong down the circling flood.
His ebon tresses and his rosy cheek
Instant emerge; and through th' obedient wave,
At each short breathing by his lip repell'd,
And dubious flutterings, he awhile remain'd:
A pure ingenuous elegance of sou',
A delicate refinement, known to few,
Perplex'd his breast, and urg'd him to retire :
But love forbade. Ye prudes in virtue, say,
Say, ye severest, what would you have done?
Meantime, this fairer nymph than ever blest
Arcadian stream, with timid eye around
The banks surveying, stripp'd her beauteous limbs,
To taste the lucid coolness of the flood.
Ah, then! not Paris on the piny top
Of Ida panted stronger, when aside
The rival goddesses the veil divine
Cast unconfin'd, and gave him all their charms,
Than, Damon, thou; as from the snowy leg,
And slender foot, th' inverted silk she drew;
As the soft touch dissolv'd the virgin zone;
And, through the parting robe, the alternate breast,
With youth wild-throbbing, on thy lawless gaze
In full luxuriance rose. But, desperate youth,
How durst thou risk the soul-distracting view;
As from her naked limbs, of glowing white,
Harmonious swell'd by Nature's finest hand,
In folds loose-floating fell the fainter lawn;
And fair-expos'd she stood, shrunk from herself,
With fancy blushing, at the doubtful breeze
Alarm'd, and starting like the fearful fawn?