The Spirit Of Discovery By Sea - Book The Fourth
Stand on the gleaming Pharos, and aloud
Shout, Commerce, to the kingdoms of the earth;
Shout, for thy golden portals are set wide,
And all thy streamers o'er the surge, aloft,
In pomp triumphant wave. The weary way
That pale Nearchus passed, from creek to creek
Advancing slow, no longer bounds the track
Of the adventurous mariner, who steers
Steady, with eye intent upon the stars,
To Elam's echoing port. Meantime, more high
Aspiring, o'er the Western main her towers
Th' imperial city lifts, the central mart
Of nations, and beneath the calm clear sky,
At distance from the palmy marge, displays
Her clustering columns, whitening to the morn.
Damascus' fleece, Golconda's gems, are there.
Murmurs the haven with one ceaseless hum;
The hurrying camel's bell, the driver's song,
Along the sands resound. Tyre, art thou fall'n?
A prouder city crowns the inland sea,
Raised by his hand who smote thee; as if thus
His mighty mind were swayed to recompense
The evil of his march through cities stormed,
And regions wet with blood! and still had flowed
The tide of commerce through the destined track,
Traced by his mind sagacious, who surveyed
The world he conquered with a sage's eye,
As with a soldier's spirit; but a scene
More awful opens: ancient world, adieu!
Adieu, cloud-piercing pillars, erst its bounds;
And thou, whose aged head once seemed to prop
The heavens, huge Atlas, sinking fast, adieu!
What though the seas with wilder fury rave,
Through their deserted realm; though the dread Cape,
Sole-frowning o'er the war of waves below,
That bar the seaman's search, horrid in air
Appear with giant amplitude; his head
Shrouded in clouds, the tempest at his feet,
And standing thus terrific, seem to say,
Incensed--Approach who dare! What though the fears
Of superstition people the vexed space
With spirits unblessed, that lamentations make
To the sad surge beyond--yet Enterprise,
Not now a darkling Cyclop on the sands
Striding, but led by Science, and advanced
To a more awful height, on the wide scene
Looks down commanding.
Does a shuddering thought
Of danger start, as the tumultuous sea
Tosses below! Calm Science, with a smile,
Displays the wondrous index, that still points,
With nice vibration tremulous, to the Pole.
And such, she whispers, is the just man's hope
In this tempestuous scene of human things;
Even as the constant needle to the North
Still points; so Piety and meek-eyed Faith
Direct, though trembling oft, their constant gaze
Heavenward, as to their lasting home, nor fear
The night, fast closing on their earthly way.
And guided by this index, thou shall pass
The world of seas secure. Far from all land,
Where not a sea-bird wanders; where nor star,
Nor moon appears, nor the bright noonday sun,
Safe in the wildering storm, as when the breeze
Of summer gently blows; through day, through night,
Where sink the well-known stars, and others rise
Slow from the South, the victor bark shall ride.
Henry! thy ardent mind first pierced the gloom
Of dark disastrous ignorance, that sat
Upon the Southern wave, like the deep cloud
That lowered upon the woody skirts, and veiled
From mortal search, with umbrage ominous,
Madeira's unknown isle. But look! the morn
Is kindled on the shadowy offing; streaks
Of clear cold light on Sagres' battlements
Are cast, where Henry watches, listening still
To the unwearied surge; and turning still
His anxious eyes to the horizon's bounds.
A sail appears; it swells, it shines: more high
Seen through the dusk it looms; and now the hull
Is black upon the surge, whilst she rolls on
Aloft--the weather-beaten ship--and now
Streams by the watch-tower!
Zarco, from the deep
The loud storm of night prevailed,
And swept our vessel from Bojador's rocks
Far out to sea; a sylvan isle received
Our sails; so willed the ALMIGHTY--He who speaks,
And all the waves are still!
Hail, HENRY cried,
The omen: we have burst the sole barrier,
(Prosper our wishes, Father of the world!)
We speed to Asia.
Soon upon the deep
The brave ship speeds again. Bojador's rocks
Arise at distance, frowning o'er the surf,
That boils for many a league without. Its course
The ship holds on; till lo! the beauteous isle,
That shielded late the sufferers from the storm,
Springs o'er the wave again. Here they refresh
Their wasted strength, and lift their vows to Heaven,
But Heaven denies their further search; for ah!
What fearful apparition, palled in clouds,
For ever sits upon the Western wave,
Like night, and in its strange portentous gloom
Wrapping the lonely waters, seems the bounds
Of Nature? Still it sits, day after day,
The same mysterious vision. Holy saints!
Is it the dread abyss where all things cease?
Or haply hid from mortal search, thine isle,
Cipango, and that unapproached seat
Of peace, where rest the Christians whom the hate
Of Moorish pride pursued? Whate'er it be,
Zarco, thy holy courage bids thee on
To burst the gloom, though dragons guard the shore,
Or beings more than mortal pace the sands.
The favouring gales invite; the bowsprit bears
Right onward to the fearful shade; more black
The cloudy spectre towers; already fear
Shrinks at the view aghast and breathless. Hark!
'Twas more than the deep murmur of the surge
That struck the ear; whilst through the lurid gloom
Gigantic phantoms seem to lift in air
Their misty arms; yet, yet--bear boldly on--
The mist dissolves;--seen through the parting haze,
Romantic rocks, like the depictured clouds,
Shine out; beneath a blooming wilderness
Of varied wood is spread, that scents the air;
Where fruits of 'golden rind,' thick interspersed
And pendent, through the mantling umbrage gleam
Inviting. Cypress here, and stateliest pine,
Spire o'er the nether shades, as emulous
Of sole distinction where all nature smiles.
Some trees, in sunny glades alone their head
And graceful stem uplifting, mark below
The turf with shadow; whilst in rich festoons
The flowery lianes braid their boughs; meantime
Choirs of innumerous birds of liveliest song
And brightest plumage, flitting through the shades,
With nimble glance are seen; they, unalarmed,
Now near in airy circles sing, then speed
Their random flight back to their sheltering bowers,
Whose silence, broken only by their song,
From the foundation of this busy world,
Perhaps had never echoed to the voice,
Or heard the steps, of Man. What rapture fired
The strangers' bosoms, as from glade to glade
They passed, admiring all, and gazing still
With new delight! 'Tis solitude around;
Deep solitude, that on the gloom of woods
Primaeval fearful hangs: a green recess
Now opens in the wilderness; gay flowers
Of unknown name purple the yielding sward;
The ring-dove murmurs o'er their head, like one
Attesting tenderest joy; but mark the trees,
Where, slanting through the gloom, the sunshine rests!
Beneath, a moss-grown monument appears,
O'er which the green banana gently waves
Its long leaf; and an aged cypress near
Leans, as if listening to the streamlet's sound,
That gushes from the adverse bank; but pause--
Approach with reverence! Maker of the world,
There is a Christian's cross! and on the stone
A name, yet legible amid its moss,--
In that remote, sequestered spot,
Shut as it seemed from all the world, and lost
In boundless seas, to trace a name, to mark
The emblems of their holy faith, from all
Drew tears; while every voice faintly pronounced,
Anna! But thou, loved harp! whose strings have rung
To louder tones, oh! let my hand, awhile,
The wires more softly touch, whilst I rehearse
Her name and fate, who in this desert deep,
Far from the world, from friends, and kindred, found
Her long and last abode; there where no eye
Might shed a tear on her remains; no heart
Sigh in remembrance of her fate:--
The Severn's side, and fled with him she loved
O'er the wide main; for he had told her tales
Of happiness in distant lands, where care
Comes not; and pointing to the golden clouds
That shone above the waves, when evening came,
Whispered--Oh, are there not sweet scenes of peace,
Far from the murmurs of this cloudy mart,--
Where gold alone bears sway,--scenes of delight,
Where love may lay his head upon the lap
Of innocence, and smile at all the toil
Of the low-thoughted throng, that place in wealth
Their only bliss! Yes, there are scenes like these.
Leave the vain chidings of the world behind,
Country, and hollow friends, and fly with me
Where love and peace in distant vales invite.
What wouldst thou here! Oh, shall thy beauteous look
Of maiden innocence, thy smile of youth, thine eyes
Of tenderness and soft subdued desire,
Thy form, thy limbs--oh, madness!--be the prey
Of a decrepit spoiler, and for gold?--
Perish his treasure with him. Haste with me;
We shall find out some sylvan nook, and then,
If thou shouldst sometimes think upon these hills,
When they are distant far, and drop a tear,
Yes--I will kiss it from thy cheek, and clasp
Thy angel beauties closer to my breast;
And whilst the winds blow o'er us, and the sun
Sinks beautifully down, and thy soft cheek
Reclines on mine, I will infold thee thus,
And proudly cry, My friend--my love--my wife!
So tempted he, and soon her heart approved,
Nay wooed, the blissful dream; and oft at eve,
When the moon shone upon the wandering stream,
She paced the castle's battlements, that threw
Beneath their solemn shadow, and, resigned
To fancy and to tears, thought it most sweet
To wander o'er the world with him she loved.
Nor was his birth ignoble, for he shone
'Mid England's gallant youth in Edward's reign:
With countenance erect, and honest eye
Commanding (yet suffused in tenderness
At times), and smiles that like the lightning played
On his brown cheek,--so gently stern he stood,
Accomplished, generous, gentle, brave, sincere,--
Robert a Machin. But the sullen pride
Of haughty D'Arfet scorned all other claim
To his high heritage, save what the pomp
Of amplest wealth and loftier lineage gave.
Reckless of human tenderness, that seeks
One loved, one honoured object, wealth alone
He worshipped; and for this he could consign
His only child, his aged hope, to loathed
Embraces, and a life of tears! Nor here
His hard ambition ended; for he sought,
By secret whispers of conspiracies,
His sovereign to abuse, bidding him lift
His arm avenging, and upon a youth
Of promise close the dark forgotten gates
Of living sepulture, and in the gloom
Inhume the slowly-wasting victim.
He purposed, but in vain; the ardent youth
Rescued her--her whom more than life he loved,
Ev'n when the horrid day of sacrifice
Drew nigh. He pointed to the distant bark,
And while he kissed a stealing tear that fell
On her pale cheek, as trusting she reclined
Her head upon his breast, with ardour cried--
Be mine, be only mine! the hour invites;
Be mine, be only mine! So won, she cast
A look of last affection on the towers
Where she had passed her infant days, that now
Shone to the setting sun. I follow thee,
Her faint voice said; and lo! where in the air
A sail hangs tremulous, and soon her feet
Ascend the vessel's side: The vessel glides
Down the smooth current, as the twilight fades,
Till soon the woods of Severn, and the spot
Where D'Arfet's solitary turrets rose,
Is lost; a tear starts to her eye, she thinks
Of him whose gray head to the earth shall bend,
When he speaks nothing--but be all, like death,
Forgotten. Gently blows the placid breeze,
And oh! that now some fairy pinnace light
Might flit across the wave (by no seen power
Directed, save when Love upon the prow
Gathered or spread with tender hand the sail),
That now some fairy pinnace, o'er the surge
Silent, as in a summer's dream, might waft
The passengers upon the conscious flood
To regions bright of undisturbed joy!
The wind is in the shrouds;--the cordage sings
With fitful violence;--the blast now swells,
Now sinks. Dread gloom invests the further wave,
Whose foaming toss alone is seen, beneath
The veering bowsprit.
Oh, retire to rest,
Maiden, whose tender heart would beat, whose cheek
Turn pale to see another thus exposed!
Hark! the deep thunder louder peals--Oh, save!--
The high mast crashes; but the faithful arm
Of love is o'er thee, and thy anxious eye,
Soon as the gray of morning peeps, shall view
Green Erin's hills aspiring!
The sad morn
Comes forth; but terror on the sunless wave
Still, like a sea-fiend, sits, and darkly smiles
Beneath the flash that through the struggling clouds
Bursts frequent, half revealing his scathed front,
Above the rocking of the waste that rolls
No word through the long day
She spoke;--another slowly came;--no word
The beauteous drooping mourner spoke. The sun
Twelve times had sunk beneath the sullen surge,
And cheerless rose again:--Ah, where are now
Thy havens, France! But yet--resign not yet--
Ye lost seafarers--oh, resign not yet
All hope--the storm is passed; the drenched sail
Shines in the passing beam! Look up, and say--
Heaven, thou hast heard our prayers!
And lo! scarce seen,
A distant dusky spot appears;--they reach
An unknown shore, and green and flowery vales,
And azure hills, and silver-gushing streams,
Shine forth; a Paradise, which Heaven alone,
Who saw the silent anguish of despair,
Could raise in the waste wilderness of waves.
They gain the haven; through untrodden scenes,
Perhaps untrodden by the foot of man
Since first the earth arose, they wind. The voice
Of Nature hails them here with music, sweet,
As waving woods retired, or falling streams,
Can make; most soothing to the weary heart,
Doubly to those who, struggling with their fate,
And wearied long with watchings and with grief,
Seek but a place of safety. All things here
Whisper repose and peace; the very birds
That 'mid the golden fruitage glance their plumes,
The songsters of the lonely valley, sing--
Welcome from scenes of sorrow, live with us.
The wild wood opens, and a shady glen
Appears, embowered with mantling laurels high,
That sloping shade the flowery valley's side;
A lucid stream, with gentle murmur, strays
Beneath the umbrageous multitude of leaves,
Till gaining, with soft lapse, the nether plain,
It glances light along its yellow bed;--
The shaggy inmates of the forest lick
The feet of their new guests, and gazing stand.
A beauteous tree upshoots amid the glade
Its trembling top; and there upon the bank
They rest them, while each heart o'erflows with joy.
Now evening, breathing richer odours sweet,
Came down: a softer sound the circling seas,
The ancient woods resounded, while the dove,
Her murmurs interposing, tenderness
Awaked, yet more endearing, in the hearts
Of those who, severed wide from human kind,
Woman and man, by vows sincere betrothed,
Heard but the voice of Nature. The still moon
Arose--they saw it not--cheek was to cheek
Inclined, and unawares a stealing tear
Witnessed how blissful was that hour, that seemed
Not of the hours that time could count. A kiss
Stole on the listening silence; ne'er till now
Here heard; they trembled, ev'n as if the Power
That made the world, that planted the first pair
In Paradise, amid the garden walked:--
This since the fairest garden that the world
Has witnessed, by the fabling sons of Greece
Hesperian named, who feigned the watchful guard
Of the scaled Dragon, and the Golden Fruit.
Such was this sylvan Paradise; and here
The loveliest pair, from a hard world remote,
Upon each other's neck reclined; their breath
Alone was heard, when the dove ceased on high
Her plaint; and tenderly their faithful arms
Infolded each the other.
Thou, dim cloud,
That from the search of men these beauteous vales
Hast closed, oh, doubly veil them! But alas,
How short the dream of human transport! Here,
In vain they built the leafy bower of love,
Or culled the sweetest flowers and fairest fruit.
The hours unheeded stole! but ah, not long--
Again the hollow tempest of the night
Sounds through the leaves; the inmost woods resound;
Slow comes the dawn, but neither ship nor sail
Along the rocking of the windy waste
Is seen: the dash of the dark-heaving wave
Alone is heard. Start from your bed of bliss,
Poor victims! never more shall ye behold
Your native vales again; and thou, sweet child!
Who, listening to the voice of love, hast left
Thy friends, thy country,--oh, may the wan hue
Of pining memory, the sunk cheek, the eye
Where tenderness yet dwells, atone (if love
Atonement need, by cruelty and wrong
Beset), atone ev'n now thy rash resolves!
Ah, fruitless hope! Day after day, thy bloom
Fades, and the tender lustre of thy eye
Is dimmed: thy form, amid creation, seems
The only drooping thing.
Thy look was soft,
And yet most animated, and thy step
Light as the roe's upon the mountains. Now,
Thou sittest hopeless, pale, beneath the tree
That fanned its joyous leaves above thy head,
Where love had decked the blooming bower, and strewn
The sweets of summer: DEATH is on thy cheek,
And thy chill hand the pressure scarce returns
Of him, who, agonised and hopeless, hangs
With tears and trembling o'er thee. Spare the sight,--
She faints--she dies!--
He laid her in the earth,
Himself scarce living, and upon her tomb
Beneath the beauteous tree where they reclined,
Placed the last tribute of his earthly love.
INSCRIPTION FOR THE GRAVE OF ANNA D'ARFET.
O'er my poor ANNA'S lowly grave
No dirge shall sound, no knell shall ring;
But angels, as the high pines wave,
Their half-heard 'Miserere' sing.
No flowers of transient bloom at eve
The maidens on the turf shall strew;
Nor sigh, as the sad spot they leave,
Sweets to the sweet! a long adieu!
But in this wilderness profound,
O'er her the dove shall build her nest;
And ocean swell with softer sound
A requiem to her dreams of rest!
Ah! when shall I as quiet be,
When not a friend, or human eye,
Shall mark beneath the mossy tree
The spot where we forgotten lie!
To kiss her name on the cold stone,
Is all that now on earth I crave;
For in this world I am alone--
Oh, lay me with her in the grave!
ROBERT A MACHIN
He placed the rude inscription on her stone,
Which he with faltering hands had graved, and soon
Himself beside it sunk--yet ere he died,
Faintly he spoke: If ever ye shall hear,
Companions of my few and evil days,
Again the convent's vesper bells, oh! think
Of me; and if in after-times the search
Of men should reach this far removed spot,
Let sad remembrance raise an humble shrine,
And virgin choirs chaunt duly o'er our grave:
Peace, peace! His arm upon the mournful stone
He dropped; his eyes, ere yet in death they closed,
Turned to the name, till he could see no more
ANNA. His pale survivors, earth to earth,
Weeping consigned his poor remains, and placed
Beneath the sod where all he loved was laid.
Then shaping a rude vessel from the woods,
They sought their country o'er the waves, and left
Those scenes once more to deepest solitude.
The beauteous ponciana hung its head
O'er the gray stone; but never human eye
Had mark'd the spot, or gazed upon the grave
Of the unfortunate, but for the voice
Of ENTERPRISE, that spoke, from Sagre's towers,
Through ocean's perils, storms, and unknown wastes--
Speed we to Asia!
Here, Discovery, pause!--
Then from the tomb of him who first was cast
Upon this Heaven-appointed isle, thy gaze
Uplift, and far beyond the Cape of Storms
Pursue De Gama's tract. Mark the rich shores
Of Madagascar, till the purple East
Shines in luxuriant beauty wide disclosed.
But cease thy song, presumptuous Muse!--a bard,
In tones whose patriot sound shall never die,
Has struck his deep shell, and the glorious theme
Say, what lofty meed awaits
The triumph of his victor conch, that swells
Its music on the yellow Tagus' side,
As when Arion, with his glittering harp
And golden hair, scarce sullied from the main,
Bids all the high rocks listen to his voice
Again! Alas, I see an aged form,
An old man worn by penury, his hair
Blown white upon his haggard cheek, his hand
Emaciated, yet the strings with thrilling touch
Soliciting; but the vain crowds pass by:
His very countrymen, whose fame his song
Has raised to heaven, in stately apathy
Wrapped up, and nursed in pride's fastidious lap,
Regard not. As he plays, a sable man
Looks up, but fears to speak, and when the song
Has ceased, kisses his master's feeble hand.
Is that cold wasted hand, that haggard look,
Thine, Camoens? Oh, shame upon the world!
And is there none, none to sustain thee found,
But he, himself unfriended, who so far
Has followed, severed from his native isles,
To scenes of gorgeous cities, o'er the sea,
Thee and thy broken fortunes!
GOD of worlds!
Oh, whilst I hail the triumph and high boast
Of social life, let me not wrong the sense
Of kindness, planted in the human heart
By man's great Maker, therefore I record
Antonio's faithful, gentle, generous love
To his heartbroken master, that might teach,
High as it bears itself, a polished world
DISCOVERY, turn thine eyes!
COLUMBUS' toiling ship is on the deep,
Stemming the mid Atlantic.
Waste and wild
The view! On the same sunshine o'er the waves
The murmuring mariners, with languid eye,
Ev'n till the heart is sick, gaze day by day!
At midnight in the wind sad voices sound!
When the slow morning o'er the offing dawns,
Heartless they view the same drear weltering waste
Of seas: and when the sun again goes down
Silent, hope dies within them, and they think
Of parting friendship's last despairing look!
See too, dread prodigy, the needle veers
Her trembling point--will Heaven forsake them too!
But lift thy sunk eye, and thy bloodless look,
Despondence! Milder airs at morning breathe:--
Below the slowly-parting prow the sea
Is dark with weeds; and birds of land are seen
To wing the desert tract, as hasting on
To the green valleys of their distant home.
Yet morn succeeds to morn--and nought around
Is seen, but dark weeds floating many a league,
The sun's sole orb, and the pale hollowness
Of heaven's high arch streaked with the early clouds.
Watchman, what from the giddy mast?
Appears on the horizon's hazy line.
Land! land! aloud is echoed; but the spot
Fades as the shouting crew delighted gaze--
It fades, and there is nothing--nothing now
But the blue sky, the clouds, and surging seas!
As one who, in the desert, faint with thirst,
Upon the trackless and forsaken sands
Sinks dying; him the burning haze deceives,
As mocking his last torments, while it seems,
To his distempered vision, like th' expanse
Of lucid waters cool: so falsely smiles
Th' illusive land upon the water's edge,
To the long-straining eye showing what seems
Its headlands and its distant trending shores;--
But all is false, and like the pensive dream
Of poor imagination, 'mid the waves
Of troubled life, decked with unreal hues,
And ending soon in emptiness and tears.
'Tis midnight, and the thoughtful chief, retired
From the vexed crowd, in his still cabin hears
The surge that rolls below; he lifts his eyes,
And casts a silent anxious look without.
It is a light--great God--it is a light!
It moves upon the shore!--Land--there is land!
He spoke in secret, and a tear of joy
Stole down his cheek, when on his knees he fell.
Thou, who hast been his guardian in wastes
Of the hoar deep, accept his tears, his prayers;
While thus he fondly hopes the purer light
Of thy great truths on the benighted world
The lingering night is past;--the sun
Shines out, while now the red-cross streamers wave
High up the gently-surging bay. From all
Shouts, songs, and rapturous thanksgiving loud,
Burst forth: Another world, entranced they cry,
Another living world!--Awe-struck and mute
The gazing natives stand, and drop their spears,
In homage to the gods!
So from the deep
They hail emerging; sight more awful far
Than ever yet the wondering voyager
Greeted;--the prospect of a new-found world,
Now from the night of dark uncertainty
At once revealed in living light!
The heart! What thronging thoughts awake! Whence sprung
The roaming nations? From that ancient race
That peopled Asia--Noah's sons? How, then,
Passed they the long and lone expanse between
Of stormy ocean, from the elder earth
Cut off, and lost, for unknown ages, lost
In the vast deep? But whilst the awful view
Stands in thy sight revealed, Spirit, awake
To prouder energies! Even now, in thought,
I see thee opening bold Magellan's tract!
The straits are passed! Thou, as the seas expand,
Pausest a moment, when beneath thine eye
Blue, vast, and rocking, through its boundless rule,
The long Pacific stretches. Nor here cease
Thy search, but with De Quiros to the South
Still urge thy way, if yet some continent
Stretch to its dusky pole, with nations spread,
Forests, and hills, and streams.
So be thy search
With ampler views rewarded, till, at length,
Lo, the round world is compassed! Then return
Back to the bosom of the tranquil Thames,
And hail Britannia's victor ship, that now
From many a storm restored, winds its slow way
Silently up the current, and so finds,
Like to a time-worn pilgrim of the world,
Rest, in that haven where all tempests cease.
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