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Now come, bold Fancy, spread a daring flight,
And view the wonders of the torrid zone :
Climes unrelenting! with whose rage compar'd,
Yon blaze is feeble, and yon skies are cool.
See, how at once the bright-effulgent sun,
Rising direct, swift chases from the sky
The short-liv'd twilight; and with ardent blaze
Looks gaily fierce through all the dazzling air :
He mounts his throne ; but kind before him sends,
Issuing from out the portals of the morn,
The general breeze, to mitigate his fire,
And breathe refreshment on a fainting world.
Great are the scenes, with dreadful beauty crown il
And barbarous wealth, that see, each circling year,
Returning suns and double seasons pass :
Rocks rich in gems, and mountains big with mines,
That on the high equator ridgy rise,
Whence many a bursting stream auriferous plays :
Majestic woods, of every vigorous green,
Stage above stage, high waving o'er the hills :
Or to the far horizon wide diffus'd,
A boundless deep immensity of shade.
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 maze
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 palmetos 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 Anana! 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 savannahs, where the wandering eye,
Unfixt, 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 dweils
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 fallen 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 nis sacred wave;
Or mid the central depth of blackening woods,
High-rais'd in solemn theatre around,
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 niine, 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. 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 souls; 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 disembowel'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 noon,
The sun, oppress’d, is plung'd in thickest gloom.
Still horror reigns ! a dreary twilight round,
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 vapours 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 aerial 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 precipated mass
Unbroken floods and solid torrents pours.
The treasures these, hid from the bounded search Of ancient kuowledge; 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 naiads nurs’d, he sports away His playful youth, amid the fragrant isles, That with unfading virtue 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