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Above that consecrated tree
Ascends the tapering spire, that seems
To lift the soul up silently
To heaven with all its dreams,
While in the belfry, deep and low,
From his heaved bosom's purple gleams
The dove's continuous murinurs flow,
A dirge-like song, half bliss, half woe,
The voice so lonely seems,
THE STRANDED BARK AND THE LIFE-BOAT.
She strikes, and she reels, and her high towering mast,
Like the forest-oak, bends in the hurricane blast,
And the billows, whose awful tops seen in the clouds,
Dash high o'er the wretches that fly to her shrouds.
Again she hath struck, and the turbulent air
Is filled with wild horrow, and shrieks of despair:
Few moments must free her from breakers and spray,
Or entomb them in ocean for ever and aye.
Forsaken her helm, that, the dark waters o'er,
Had oft steered her safe to the sheltering shore;
And her beautiful pennant, that streamed ever bright,
Like the sunbeam by day, and a meteor by night,
Now twines round her topmast (how changed since the morn!)
Or, piecemeal, the sport of the tempest, is torn.
No peal of alarm was discharged from her deck;
But the voice of despair from the perishing wreck
Found an echo in hearts, that, in every wild form,
Have encountered the demon that yells in the storm;
And that spirit which makes them in danger more brave,
Only rose with the scene; on the tempest-tost wave
They launched their light bark, and, in gallant array,
Dashed from shore, with a true hearty British huzza.
Far far as the eye of the gazer could roam,
There was nothing but breakers and billows of foam;
One moment she seemed in the boiling surge lost,
The next, we behold her still struggling, but tost
At the merciless power of the deep booming sea;
But still forward she kept on her perilous track-
Oh, sailor-boy! sailor boy? many for thee
Are the sighs and the tears that will welcome thee back.
Now high o'er the billows majestic she rides,
With her twelve noble rowers all lashed to her sides;
Relax not one effort—one moment may save,
Orentomb them for ever beneath the dark wave;
For, hark! the last cry of despair is ascending,
As shivering they cling to the topmast, and rending
The heavens with their outcry-one effort, one more,
And 'tis gained, like a thunder-cloud burst upon shore
The gazers' applause, as the life-boat steered round them.
But who shall describe the poor rescued, or tell
With what feelings these greater than conquerors found them,
As half naked, half dead, from the rigging they fell;
Or lifelessly sunk on their foreheads, as though
The last torment was passed-drained the last cup of wo?
And now with the shipwrecked and destitute crew,
The billows are foaming around him, and loud,
Like the roar of artillery, the tempest-charged cloud
Breaks o'er them in thunder; still o'er the dark sea
They push their light bark in its perilous track
Oh, sailor-boy! sailor-boy! many for thee
Are the sighs and the tears that will welcome thee back. The sea-gull flew wildly and mournfully round, As if on the deep shoreless ocean she'd found Some exiles condemned o'er the wide world to roam; Then, light as the billow, and white as the foam, Winged her way on the breeze to her tempest-rocked home. On the tiptoe of hope and of fear we beheld, As their bark through the billows the rowers impelled; But, at length, in smooth water we saw her safe moored, And what was the boon for the danger endured? Avaunt, selfish hearts! what at first had inspired Brought its own bright reward, all the boon they desired; 'Twas enough to have saved, from the jaws of the grave, Hearts that beat like their own, true, undaunted, and brave.
AN EVENING WALK IN BENGAL.
Our task is done! o'er Gunga's breast
The sun is sinking down to rest;
And, moored beneath the tamarind bough,
Our bark has found its harbour now.
With furled sail, and painted side,
Behold the tiny frigate ride.
Upon her deck, ʼmid charcoal gleams,
The Moslem's savoury supper steams;
While, all apart, beneath the wood,
The Hindoo cooks his simpler food.
Come walk with me the jungle through;-
If yonder hunter tell us true,
Far off, in desert dank and rude,
The tiger holds his solitude;
Nor (taught by recent harm to shun
The thunders of the English gun),
A dreadful guest, but rarely seen,
Returns to scare the village green.-
Come boldly on! no venomed snake
Can shelter in so cool a brake;
Child of the sun! he loves to lie
'Mid nature's embers, parched and dry,
Where o’er some tower, in ruin laid,
The peepul spreads its haunted shade,
Or round a tomb his scales to wreath,
Fit warder in the gate of death!
Come on! yet pause! behold us now
Beneath the bamboo's arched bough;
Where, gemming oft that sacred gloom,
Glows the geranium's scarlet bloom;
And winds our path through many a bower
Of fragrant tree and giant Hower:-
The ceiba's crimson pomp displayed
O’er the broad plantain's humbler shade,
And dusk anana's prickly blade;
While o’er the brake so wild and fair,
The betel waves his crest in air.
With pendant train, and rushing wings,
Aloft the georgeous peacock springs!
And he, the bird of hundred dyes,
Whose plumes the dames of Ava prize.--
So rich a shade,--so green a sod,-
Our English fairies never trod;
Yet who in Indian bower has stood,
But thought on England's “good green wood;"
And blessed, beneath the palmy shade,
Her hazel and her hawthorn glade;
And breathed a prayer (how oft in vain!)
To gaze upon her oaks again.
A truce to thought! the jackal's cry
Resounds like sylvan revelry;
And, through the trees, yon failing ray
Will scantly serve to guide our way.
Yet, mark! as fade the upper skies,
Each thicket opes ten thousand eyes :-
Before, beside us, and above,
The fire-fly lights his lamp of love,
Retreating, chasing, sinking, soaring,
The darkness of the copse exploring;
While, to this cooler air confest,
The broad dhatura bares her breast,
Of fragrant scent, and virgin white,
A pearl around the locks of night!
Still as we pass, in softened hum,
Along the breezy alleys come
The village song,—the horn,—the drum.-
Still as we pass from bush and briar,
The shrill cigala strikes his lyre;
And what is she whose liquid strain
Thrills through yon copse of sugar-cane ?
I know the soul-entrancing swell!
It is-it must be-Philomel !
Enough! enough! the rustling trees
Announce a shower upon the breeze,
The flashes of the summer sky
Assume a deeper ruddier dye;
Yon lamp that trembles on the stream
From forth our cabin sheds its beam :
And we must early sleep to find,
Betimes, the morning's healthy wind.
But, oh! with thankful hearts confess
E'en here there may be happiness;
And He, the bounteous Sire, has given
His peace on earth—his hope of heaven!
THE INVITATION TO SELBORNE.
SEE, Selborne spreads her boldest beauties round
The varied valley, and the mountain ground,
Wildly majestic! What is all the pride
Of flats, with loads of ornament supplied ?
Unpleasing, tasteless, impotent expense,
Compared with Nature's rude magnificence.
Oft on some evening, sunny, soft, and still,
The muse shall lead thee to the beech grown hill,
To spend in tea the cool, refreshing hour,
Where nods in air the pensile, nest-like bower;
Or where the hermit hangs the straw-clad cell,
Emerging gently from the leafy dell,
By Fancy planned; as once the inventive maid
Met the hoar sage amid the secret shade.
Romantic spot! froin whence in prospect lies
Whate’er of landscape charms our feasting eyes :
The pointed spire, the hall, the pasture plain,
The russet fallow, or the golden grain,
The breezy lake, that sheds a gleaming light,
Till all the fading picture fail the sight.
Hark! while below the village bells ring round,
Echo, sweet nymph, returns the softened sound;
But, if gusts rise, the rushing forests roar,
Like the tide tumbling on the pebbly shore.
Adown the vale, in lone, sequestered nook,
Where skirting woods imbrown the dimpling brook,
The ruined convent lies! Here wont to dwell
The lazy canon ’midst his cloistered cell,
While papal darkness brooded o’er the land,
Ere Reformation made her glorious stand:
Still oft at eve belated shepherd swains
See the cowled spectre skim the folded plains.
To the high Temple would my stranger go,
The mountain-brow commands the woods below,
In Jewry first this order found a name,
When maddening Croisades set the world in flame;
When western climes, urged on by pope and priest,
Poured forth their millions o'er the deluged East:
Luxurious knights, ill suited to defy
To mortal fight, Turcestan chivalry.
Nor be the parsonage by the Muse forgot!
The partial bard admires his native spot;
Smit with its beauties, loved, as yet a child,
Unconscious why, its capes, grotesque and wild.
High on a mound the exalted gardens stand,
Beneath, deep valleys scooped by Nature's hand.
Now climb the steep, drop now your eye below,
Where round the blooming village orchards grow!
There, like a picture, lies my lowly seat,
A rural, sheltered, unobserved retreat.
Me far above the rest Selbornian scenes, The pendant forests and the mountain greens, Strike with delight: there spreads the distant view, That gradual fades till sunk'in misty blue: Here Nature hangs her slopy woods to sight, Rills purl between, and dart a quivering light:
WHITE of Selborne.