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BY THE AUTHOR OF ROUGE ET NOIR.
How like a younker, or a prodigal,
The scarfed bark puts from her native bay,
Hugg’d and embraced by the strumpet wind !
How like the prodigal doth she return;
With over-weather'd ribs, and ragged sails,
Lean, rent, and beggar'd by the strumpet wind !
MERCHANT OF VENICE.
An anxious, lingering, perilous voyage past,
An India ship hail'd Albion's land at last !
Moor'd in the Downs, her mighty pinions close
Like some far flying bird that seeks repose;
While, crowding on the deck, a hundred eyes
Turn'd shoreward-flash'd with pleasure and surprise.
That eve they anchor’d, from the horizon’s hem
The virgin Moon, as if to welcome them,
Rose from her rest—but would no more reveal
Than the faint outline of her pale profile :
Though soon (as maids forego their fears) she gave
Her orbed brow to kiss the wanton wave :
Till—like a scornful lover, swoll'n with pride,
Because too fondly loved to be denied,
The rude wave spurn’d her off, and raised that loud
And angry blast that scream'd through sail and
shroud, The livelong night on which my harp is dwelling. Meanwhile, the swarthy crew, each care dispelling, Had sported thrice three summer suns away Since they had cast their anchor in that bay. 0, none save Fortune's step-sons, doom’d to roam The deep, can prize a harbour and a home!
The temperate breeze their sun-bronzed temples
blessingA native shore the gladden'd eye refreshingThe painted pinnace dancing from the land Freighted with friends—the pressure of the hand Whose pulse throbs happy seconds—the warm gush Of blood into the cheek, as it would rush With the heart's welcome ere the tongue could half Perform its office-feeling's telegraph ! Impassion'd smiles, and tears of rapture startingOh, how unlike the tears which fell at parting ! And all were theirs—that good ship's gallant crew, As though each joy which absence render'd due Were paid in one bright moment: such are known To those long sever'd, loving, loved, alone! A gorgeous freight that broad-sail'd vessel boreThe blazing diamonds and the blushing ore; Spices that sigh'd their incense, till the sails Were fann'd along on aromatic gales From Orient lands. Then marvel not if he Who there is Chief should look exultingly Back on the storms he baffled, and should know The bosom's warmest wildest overflow While gazing on the land which laugh'd before him The smooth sea round—the blue pavilion o'er him! Yet felt he more than ever sprang from these, For love demanded deeper sympathies ; And long in lonely bower had sigh'd for him A fond fair Bride, whose infant Cherubim Oft spirit-clouded from its playthings crept, To weep beside its mother while she wept. But O, they met at length! And such sweet days Already proved as leave a light that plays Upon the memory when their warmth is gone The fount thus treasures sunbeams, and shines on
174 Through dusk and darkness. Like some happy
mother, Joy mark'd the hours pursuing one anotherA wreath of buoyant angels! Yet as they Wheel'd laughing round, oft sigh’d, to make them stay!
This was a day of banqueting on board;
And swan-wing'd barks, and barges many-oar'd
Came crowded to the feast. The young--the gay-
The beautiful-were there. Right merrily
The pleasure boats glide onward ;—with swift prow
The clear wave curling, till around each bow,
With frequent flash, the bright and feathery spray
Threw mimic rainbows at the sun in play.
The ship is won, the silken chair is lower'd-
Exulting Youth and Beauty bound on board ;
And, while they wondering gaze on sail and shroud,
The flag flaps o'er them like a crimson cloud.
Young Pleasure kiss'd each heart! From Persia's
An ample awning spread its purple bloom
To canopy the guests; and vases, wreath'd
With deep-hued flowers and foliage, sweetly breathed
Their incense, fresh as zephyrs when they rove
Among the blossoms of a citron grove;
Soft sounds—invisible spirits on the wing)
Were heard and felt around them hovering ;-
In short, some magic seem'd to sway the hour,
The wand-struck deck becomes an orient bower!
A very wilderness of blushing roses,
Just such as Love would choose when he reposes.
The pendent orange from a lush of leaves,
Hangs like Hesperian gold; and, tied in sheaves,
Carnations prop their triple coronals ;
The grape, out-peeping from thick foliage, falls
Like cluster'd amethysts in deep festoons;
And shells are scatter'd round which Indian moons
Had sheeted with the silver of their beams;
But 0, what, more than all, the scene beseems,
Fair, faultless forms, glide there with wing-like
Bright as young Peris rising from the ocean !
Eve darken'd down—and yet they were not gone;
The sky had changed,--the sudden storm came on!
ONE waved on high a ruby sparkling bowl-
(Youth, passion, wine, ran riot in his soul)
" Fill to the brim," he cried, “ let others peer
Their doubtful path to heaven ;-my heaven is here!
This hour is mine, and who can dash its bliss ?
Fate dare not darken such an hour as this !”
Then stoop'd to quaff;—but (as a charm were thrown)
His hand, his lips, grew motionless as stone;
His drunkenness of heart no more deceives
The thunder growls, the surge-smote vessel heaves;
And while aghast he stared, a hurrying squall
Rent the wide awning, and discover'd all!
Across their eyes the hissing lightning blazed —
The black wave burst beside them as they gazed ;
And dizzily the thick surf scatter'd o'er them;
And dim and distant loom'd the land before them;
No longer firm-the' eternal hills did leave
Their solid rest, and heaved, or seem'd to heave.
O, 'twas an awful moment !-for the crew
Had rashly, deeply drank, while yet they knew
No ruling eye was on them-and became
Wild as the tempest! Peril could not tame-
Nay, stirr'd their brutal hearts to more excess;
Round the deserted banquet-board they press,
Like men transform'd to fiends, with oath and yell!
And many deem'd the sea less terrible
Than maniacs fiercely ripe for all, or aught,
That ever flash'd upon a desperate thought!
Strange laughter mingled with the shriek and groan-
Nor woman shrank, nor woman wept alone.
Some, as a bolt had smote them, fell ;—and some
Stared haggard wild:—dismay had struck them dumb.
There were of firmer nerve, or fiercer cast,
Who scowl'd defiance back upon the blast-
Half scorning in their haughty souls to be
Thus pent and buffeted. And tenderly,
Even then, to manly hearts fair forms were drawn,
Whose virgin eyes had never shed their dawn
Before--soft, beautifully shy—to flush
A lover's hope; but as the dove will rush
Into the school-boy's bosom to elude
The swooping goshawk-woman, thus subdued,
Will cling to those she shunn'd in lighter mood
The soul confess emotions but conceal'd-
Pure, glowing, deep, though lingeringly reveal'd;
That true chameleon which imbibes the tone
Of every passion hue she pauses on!
0, 'tis the cheek that's false—so subtly taught
It takes not of its colour from the thought;
But like volcanic mountains veil'd in snow,
Hides the heart's lava, while it works below!
And there were two who loved, but never told
Their love to one another: years had rollid
Since Passion touch'd them with his purple wing,
Though still their youth was in its blossoming.
Lofty of soul, as riches were denied,
He deem'd it mean to woo a wealthy bride ;
And (for her tears were secret) coldly she
Wreath'd her pale brow in maiden dignity;
Yet each had caught the other's eye reposing,
And, far as looks disclose, the truth disclosing;