Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

From the far-off isles enchanted

Heaven has planted
With the golden fruit of Truth ;
From the flashing surf, whose vision

Gleams Elysian
In the tropic clime of Youth ;

From the strong Will, and the Endeavor

That forever Wrestles with the tides of Fate ; From the wreck of Hopes far-scattered,

Tempest-shattered, Floating waste and desolate ; -

Ever drifting, drifting, drifting

On the shifting
Currents of the restless heart;
Till at length in books recorded,

They, like hoarded
Household words, no more depart.

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.

Light as a flake of foam upon the wind
Keel-upward from the deep emerged a shell,
Shaped like the moon ere half her horn is filled :
Fraught with young life, it righted as it rose,
And moved at will along the yielding water.
The native pilot of this little bark
Put out a tier of oars on either side,
Spread to the wafting breeze a twofold sail,
And mounted up and glided down the billow
In happy freedom, pleased to feel the air,
And wander in the luxury of light.
Worth all the dead creation, in that hour,
To me appeared this lonely Nautilus,
My fellow-being, like myself, alive.
Entranced in contemplation, vague yet sweet,
I watched its vagrant course and rippling wake,
Till I forgot the sun amidst the heavens.
It closed, sunk, dwindled to a point, then

nothing;
While the last bubble crowned the dimpling eddy,
Through which mine eyes still giddily pursued it,
A joyous creature vaulted through the air,
The aspiring fish that fain would be a bird,
On long, light wings, that flung a diamond.

shower
Of dew-drops round its evanescent form,
Sprang into light, and instantly descended.
Ere I could greet the stranger as a friend,
Or mourn his quick departure on the surge,

GULF-WEED.

A WEARY weed, tossed to and fro,

Drearily drenched in the ocean brine, Soaring high and sinking low,

Lashed along without will of mine ;

sin;

A shoal of dolphins tumbling in wild glee, Fresh wreaths from the coral pavement spring, Glowed with such orient tints, they might have Like the terraced pride of Assyria's king; been

The turf looks green where the breakers rolled ; The rainbow's offspring, when it met the ocean

O'er the whir ripens the rind of gold ; in that resplendent vision I had seen.

The sea-snatched isle is the home of men, While yet in eestasy, I hung o'er these,

And mountains exult where the wave hath been. With every motion pouring out fresh beauties, As though the conscious colors came and went But why do ye plant, 'neath the billows dark, At pleasure, glorying in their subtle changes, The wrecking reef for the gallant bark ? Enormous o'er the flood, Leviathan

There are snares enough on the tented field, Looked forth, and from his roaring nostrils sent Mid the blossomed sweets that the valleys yield; Two fountains to the sky, then plunged amain

There are serpents to coil ere the flowers are up, In headlong pastime through the closing gulf. There's a poison drop in man's purest cup, These were but preludes to the revelry

There are foes that watch for his cradle breath, That reigned at sunset : then the deep let loose And why need ye sow the floods with death ? Its blithe adventurers to sport at large, As kindly instinct taught them; buoyant shells, With mouldering bones the deeps are white, On stormless voyages, in fleets or single,

From the ice-clad pole to the tropics bright; Wherried their tiny mariners ; aloof,

The mermaid hath twisted her fingers cold On wing-like fins, in bow-and-arrow figures,

With the mesh of the sea-boy's curls of gold, The flying-fishes darted to and fro ;

And the gods of the ocean have frowned to see
While spouting whales projected watery columns, The mariner's bed in their halls of glee ;
That turned to arches at their height, and seemed Hath earth no graves, that ye thus must spread
The skeletons of crystal palaces

The boundless sea for the thronging dead ?
Built on the blue expanse, then perishing,
Frail as the element which they were made of :

Ye build — ye build — but ye enter not in,

Like the tribes whom the desert devoured in their Dolphins, in gambols, lent the lucid brine Hues richer than the canopy of eve, That overhung the scene with gorgeous clouds,

From the land of promise ye fade and die Decaying into gloom more beautiful

Ere its verdure gleams forth on your weary eye : Than the sun's golden liveries which they lost :

As the kings of the cloud-crowned pyramid, Till light that hides, and darkness that reveals

Their noiseless bones in oblivion hid,

Ye slumber unmarked mid the desolate main,
The stars, — exchanging guard, like sentinels
Of day and night, — transformed the face of While the wonder and pride of your works remain.

nature;
Above was wakefulness, silence around,
Beneath, repose, -- repose that reached even me.
Power, will, sensation, memory, failed in turn ;

THE CORAL INSECT.
My very essence seemed to pass away,

FROM "THE PELICAN ISLAND."
Like a thin cloud that melts across the moon,
Lost in the blue immensity of heaven.

EVERY one,
JAMES MONTGOMERY.

By instinct taught, performed its little task,
To build its dwelling and its sepulchre,

From its own essence exquisitely modelled ;
THE CORAL INSECT.

There breed, and die, and leave a progeny,

Still multiplied beyond the reach of numbers, Toit on! toil on ! ye ephemeral train,

To frame new cells and tombs, then breed and die Who build in the tossing and treacherous main ; As all their ancestors had done, — and rest, Toil on! for the wisdom of man ye mock, Hermetically sealed, each in its shrine, With your sand-based structures and domes of A statue in this temple of oblivion ! rock,

Millions of millions thus, from age to age, Your coluinns the fathomless fountains' cave, With simplest skill and toil unweariable, And your arches spring up to the crested wave; No moment and no movement unimproved, Ye 're a puny race thus to boldly rear

Laid line on line, on terrace terrace spread, A fabric so vast in a realm so drear.

To swell the heightening, brightening, gradual

mound, Ye bind the deep with your secret zone, By marvellous structure climbing towards the day. The ocean is sealed, and the surge a stone,

LYDIA H. SIGOURNEY.

A point at first Left by one tide and cancelled by the next; It peered above those waves; a point so small Egypt's dread wonders, still defying Time, I just perceived it, fixed where all was floating ; | Where cities have been crumbled into sand, And when a bubble crossed it, the blue film Scattered by winds beyond the Libyan desert, Expanded like a sky above the speck ;

Or melted down into the mud of Nile, That speck became a hand-breadth ; day and night And cast in tillage o'er the corn-sown fields, It spread, accumulated, and erelong

Where Memphis flourished, and the Pharaohs Presented to my view a dazzling plain,

reigned ; White as the moon amid the sapphire sea; Egypt's gray piles of hieroglyphic grandeur, Bare at low water, and as still as death, That have survived the language which they speak, But when the tide came gurgling o'er the surface Preserving its deed emblems to the eye, "T was like a resurrection of the dead :

Yet hiding from the mind what these reveal ; From graves innumerable, punctures fine Her pyramids would be mere pinnacles, In the close coral, capillary swarms

Her giant statues, wrought from rocks of granite Covered the bald-pate reef ;

But puny ornaments for such a pile

As this stupendous mound of catacombs, Erelong the reef o'ertopt the spring-flood's height, Filled with dry mummies of the builder-worms. And mocked the billows when they leapt upon it,

JAMES MONTGOMERY.
Unable to maintain their slippery hold,'
And falling down in foam-wreaths round its verge.
Steep were the flanks, with precipices sharp,
Descending to their base in ocean gloom.

THE CORAL GROVE.
Chasms few and narrow and irregular
Formed harbors, safe at once and perilous, – DEEP in the wave is a coral grove,
Safe for defence, but perilous to enter.

Where the purple mullet and gold-fish rove; A sea-lake shone amidst the fossil isle,

Where the sea-flower spreads its leaves of blue Reflecting in a ring its cliffs and caverns,

That never are wet with falling dew, With heaven itself seen like a lake below.

But in bright and changeful beauty shine

Far down in the green and glassy brine. Compared with this amazing edifice,

The floor is of sand, like the mountain drift, Raised by the weakest creatures in existence,

And the pearl-shells spangle the flinty snow; What are the works of intellectual man ?

From coral rocks the sea-plants lift Towers, temples, palaces, and sepulchres ;

Their boughs, where the tides and billows flow; Ideal images in sculptured forms,

The water is calm and still below, Thoughts hewn in columns, or in domes expandedl, For the winds and waves are absent there, Fancies through every maze of beauty shown ;

And the sands are bright as the stars that glow Pride, gratitude, affection turned to marble,

In the motionless fields of upper air. In honor of the living or the dead ;

There, with its waving blade of green, What are they?— fine-wrought miniatures ofart, The sea-flag streams throngh the silent water, Too exquisite to bear the weight of dew,

And the crimson leaf of the dulse is seen Which every morn lets fall in pearls upon them, To blush, like a banner bathed in slaughter. Till all their pompsinks down in mouldering relics, There, with a light and easy motion, Yet in their ruin lovelier than their prime ! The fan-coral sweeps through the clear, deep sea ; Dust in the balance, atoms in the gale,

And the yellow and scarlet tufts of ocean Compared with these achievements in the deep,

Are bending like corn on the upland lea. Were all the monuments of olden time,

And life, in rare and beautiful forms, In days when there were giants on the earth.

Is sporting amid those bowers of stone, Babel's stupendous folly, though it aimed

And is safe when the wrathful spirit of storms To scale heaven's battlements, was but a toy,

Has made the top of the wave his own. The plaything of the world in infancy ;

And when the ship from his fury flies, The ramparts, towers, and gates of Babylon,

Where the myriad voices of ocean roar, Built for eternity, – though, where they stood,

When the wind-god frowns in the murky skies, Ruin itself stands still for lack of work,

And demons are waiting the wreck on shore, And Desolation keeps unbroken Sabbath ; Then, far below, in the peaceful sea, Great Babylon, in its full moon of empire,

The purple mullet and gold-fish rove, Even when its “head of gold” was smitten off Where the waters murmur tranquilly, And from a monarch changed into a brute

Through the bending twigs of the coral grove. Great Babylon was like a wreath of sand,

JAMES GATES PERCIVAL

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« VorigeDoorgaan »