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Still are we hawk'd at by such mousing owls,
And take for falcons those ignoble fowls,
When but a word of freedom would dispel
These bugbears, as their terrors show too well.
Rapt in the fond forgetfulness of life,
Neuha, the South Sea girl, was all a wife,
With no distracting world to call her off
From love ; with no society to scoff
At the new transient flame; no babbling crowd
Of coxcombry in admiration loud,
Or with adulterous whisper to alloy
Her duty, and her glory, and her joy ;
With faith and feelings naked as her form,
She stood as stands a rainbow in storm,
Changing its hues with bright variety,
But still expanding lovelier o’er the sky,
Howe'er its arch may swell, its colours move,
The cloud-compelling harbinger of love.
Here in this grotto of the wave-worn shore,
They pass'd the tropic's red meridian o'er ;
Nor long the hours—they never paused o'er time,
Unbroken by the clock's funereal chime,
Which deals the daily pittance of our span,
And points and mocks with iron laugh at man.
What deem'd they of the future or the past?
The present, like a tyrant, held them fast:
Their hour-glass was the sea-sand, and the tide,
Like her smooth billow, saw their moments glide ;
Their clock the sun in his unbounded tower ;
They reckon'd not, whose day was but an hour ;
The nightingale, their only vesper-bell,
Sung sweetly to the rose the day's farewell ;*
The broad sun set, but not with lingering sweep,
As in the north he mellows o'er the deep,
But fiery, full and fierce, as if he left
The world for ever, earth of light bereft,
Plunged with red forehead down along the wave,
As dives a hero headlong to his grave.
Then rose they, looking first along the skies,
And then, for light, into each other's eyes,
* The now well-known story of the loves of the nightingale and rose need not be more than alluded to, being sufficiently familiar to the Western as to the Eastern reader.
Wondering that summer show'd so brief a sun,
And asking if indeed the day were done !
And let not this seem strange ; the devotee
Lives not in earth, but in his ecstacy;
Around him days and worlds are heedless driven,-
His soul is gone before his dust to heaven.
Is love less potent? No-his path is trod,
Alike uplifted gloriously to God;
Or link'd to all we know of heaven below,
The other better self, whose joy or woe
Is more than ours ; the all-absorbing flame
Which, kindled by another, grows the same,
Wrapt in one blaze; the pure, yet funeral pile,
Where gentle hearts, like Bramins, sit and smile.
How often we forget all time, when lone,
Admiring nature's universal throne,
Her woods, her wilds, her waters, the intense
Reply of hers to our intelligence!
Live not the stars and mountains ? Are the waves
Without a spirit ?. Are the dropping caves
Without a feeling in their silent tears?
No, no :—they woo and clasp us to their spheres,
Dissolve this clog and clod of clay before
Its hour, and merge our soul in the great shore.
Strip off this fond and false identity !-
Who thinks of self, when gazing on the sky ?
And who, though gazing lower, ever thought,
In the young moments ere the heart is taught
Time's lesson, of man's baseness or his own?
All nature is his realm, and love his throne.
Neuha arose, and Torquil : twilight's hour
Came sad and softly to their rocky bower,
Which, kindling by degrees its dewy spars,
Echo'd their dim light to the mustering stars.
Slowly the pair, partaking nature's calin,
Sought out their cottage, built beneath the palm ;
Now smiling and now silent, as the scene;
Lovely as love—the spirit! when serene.
The ocean scarce spoke louder with his swell
Than breathes his mimic murmurer in the shell,
* If the reader will apply to his ear the sea-shell on his chimney-piece, he will be aware of what is alluded to. If the text should appear obscure, he will find in “Gebir” the same idea better expressed in two lines.--The poem I never read, but
As, far divided from his parent deep,
The sea-born infant cries, and will not sleep,
Raising his little plaint in vain, to rave
For the broad bosom of his nursing wave :
The woods droop'd darkly, as inclined to rest,
The tropic-bird wheel'd rock-ward to his nest,
And the blue sky spread round them like a lake
Of peace, where piety her thirst might slake.
But through the palm and plantain, hark, a voice !
Not such as would have been a lover's choice,
In such an hour, to break the air so still !
No dying night breeze, harping o'er the hill,
Striking the strings of nature, rock and tree,
Those best and earliest lyres of harmony,
With echo for their chorus ; nor the alarm
Of the loud war-whoop to dispel the charm;
Nor the soliloquy of the hermit owl,
Exhaling all his solitary soul,
The dim though large-eyed winged anchorite
Who peals his dreary pæan o'er the night ;-
But a loud, long, and naval whistle, shrill
As ever startled through a sea-bird's bill ;
And then a pause, and then a hoarse “ Hillo !
Torquil ! my boy! what cheer? Ho, brother, ho!"
" Who hails ?" cried Torquil, following with his eye
The sound. “ Here's one!" was all the brief reply.
But here the herald of the self-same mouth
Came breathing o'er the aromatic south,
Not like a “bed of violets” on the gale,
But such as wafts its cloud o’er grog or ale,
Born from a short frail pipe, which yet had blown
Its gentle odours over either zone,
And, puffd where'er winds rise or waters roll,
Had wafted smoke from Portsmouth to the Pole,
Opposed its vapour as the lightning flash'd,
And reek'a, 'midst mountain billows unabash'd,
To Æolus a constant sacrifice,
Through every change of all the varying skies.
have heard the lines quoted by a more recondite reader-who seems to be of a different opinion from the Editor of the Quarterly Review, who qualified it, in his answer to the Critical Reviewer of his Juvenal, as trash of the worst and most insane description. It is to Mr Landor, the author of Gebir, so qualified, and some Latin poems, which vie with Martial or Catullus in obscenity, that the immaculate Mr. Southey addresses his declamation against impurity!
And what was he who bore it?—I may err,
But deem him sailor or philosopher.*
Sublime Tobacco ! which from east to west
Cheers the tar's labour or the Turkman's rest;
Which on the Moslem's ottoman divides
His hours, and rivals opium and his brides ;
Magnificent in Stamboul, but less grand,
Though not less loved, in Wapping or the Strand ;
Divine in hookas, glorious in a pipe,
When tipp'd with amber, yellow, rich, and ripe ;
Like other charmers, wooing the caress
More dazzlingly when daring in full dress ;
Yet thy true lovers more admire by far
Thy naked beauties—Give me a cigar!
Through the approaching darkness of the wood
A human figure broke the solitude,
Fantastically, it may be, array'd,
A seaman in a savage masquerade ;
Such as appears to rise from out the deep,
When o'er the line the
And the rough Saturnalia of the tar
Flock o'er the deck, in Neptune's borrow'd car;t
And, pleased, the god of ocean sees his name
Revive once more, though but in mimic game
Of his true sons, who riot in a breeze
Undreamt of in his native Cyclades.
Still the old god delights, from out the main,
To snatch some glimpses of his ancient reign.
Our sailor's jacket, though in ragged trim,
His constant pipe, which never yet burn'd dim,
His foremast air, and somewhat rolling gait,
Like his dear vessel, spoke his former state ;
But then a sort of kerchief round his head,
Not over tightly bound, or nicely spread;
And, stead of trowsers (ah ! too early torn!
For even the mildest woods will have their thorn),
A curious sort of somewhat scanty mat
Now served for inexpressibles and hat;
His naked feet and neck, and sunburnt face,
Perchance might suit alike with either race.
His arms were all his own, our Europe's growth,
Which two worlds bless for civilizing both;
Hobbes, the father of Locke's and other philosophy, was an inveterate smoker, -even to pipes beyond computation.
+ This rough but jovial ceremony, used in crossing the Line, has been so often and so well described, that jt need not be more than alluded to.
The musket swung behind his shoulders, broad
And somewhat stoop'd by his marine abode,
But brawny as the boar's; and, hung beneath,
His cutlass droop'd, unconscious of a sheath,
Or lost or worn away;
his pistols were
Link'd to his belt, a matrimonial pair-
(Let not this metaphor appear a scoff,
Though one miss'd fire, the other would go off);
These, with a bayonet, not so free from rust
As when the arm-chest held its brighter trust,
Completed his accoutrements, as night
Survey'd him in his garb heteroclite.
“What cheer, Ben Bunting ?" cried (when in full view
Our new acquaintance) Torquil : “aught of new?"
· Ey, ey,” quoth Ben, “ not new, but news enow ;
A strange sail in the offing.”—“ Sail! and how?
What ! could you make her out ? It cannot be ;
I've seen no rag of canvas on the sea.”
“Belike,” said Ben, "you might not from the bay,
But from the bluff-head, where I watch'd to-day,
I saw her in the doldrums; for the wind
Was light and baffling.”—“When the sun declined
Where lay she ? had she anchor'd ?”—“No, but still
She bore down on us, till the wind
still.” “Her flag ?”—“I had no glass ; but, fore and aft, Egad, she seem'd a wicked-looking craft.” “ Arm’d?”—“I expect so ;-sent on the look-out ;’T is time, belike, to put our helm about." - About?-Whate'er
have us now in chase,
We 'll make no running fight, for that were base ;
We will die at our quarters, like true men.”
, ey; for that, 't is all the same to Ben."
“Does Christian know this ?"_" Ay; he 's piped all hands
To quarters. They are furbishing the stands
Of arms; and we have got some guns to bear,
And scaled them. You are wanted."-" That's but fair ;
And if it were not, mine is not the soul
To leave my comrades helpless on the shoal.
My Neuha ! ah! and must my fate
Not me alone, but one so sweet and true!
But whatsoe'er betide, ah! Neuha, now
Unman me not; the hour will not allow
I'm thine, whatever intervenes !"
Right,” quoth Ben, “ that will do for the marines."
*“ That will do for the marinęs, but the sailors won't believe it,” is an old saying, and one of the few fragments of former jealousies which still survive (in jest only) between these gallant services.