To A Friend,
WHO SENT ME FLOWERS, WHEN CONFINED BY
WHILE sickness still my step detains
From scenes where vernal pleasure reigns,
Where Spring has bath'd with dewy tear
The blossoms of the op'ning year;
To soothe confinement's languid hours,
You send a lavish gift of flowers,
Midst whose soft odours mem'ry roves
O'er all the images she loves.
Not long their sweetness shall prevail,
Their rosy tints shall soon be pale,
Yet fancy in their fading hues
No emblem of our friendship views;
Its firm fidelity shall last,
When all the flowers of spring are past;
And when life's summer shall be o'er,
That summer which returns no more,
Still friendship, with perennial bloom,
Shall soften half the winter's gloom!
Verses Addressed To My Two Nephews
ON SAINT HELEN'S DAY, 1809.
DEAR Boys!--dismiss'd awhile from school,
From sober learning's thorny rule,--
The annual race of glory run,
The prize bestow'd, the laurels won,--
Ye leave the scientific dome,
While noisy rapture hails your home:
Home--cherish'd spot! whose magic power
Can charm with hope the studious hour;
And where the heart--however far--
Points, like the needle to its star!
And now, with many a fond oration,
Ye ask, to crown this dear vacation,
Saturnian time of sport and play,
A FÊTE !--to grace SAINT HELEN'S DAY !
But will the Saint propitious see
A Fête dear Boys! prepar'd for me?
I!--who her altar never sought,
An heretic! who idly thought
She liv'd alone in pagan fame,
And half forgot her sainted name!
But--since that name, entwin'd with palms,
The legend's deathless page embalms,
And since historic truth must own
Her crested votary fill'd a throne--
We'll lay our offerings at her shrine,
And call her, as she is, divine!
Then haste, dear Boys! and deck the bowers,
This chosen day, with festive flowers!
The votive bouquet joyful bring;
And bid your muse, on lofty wing,
The steep Parnassian summits climb,
And weave the tributary rhyme.
The soothing song which ye rehearse--
Though form'd of perishable verse,
And, like the bouquet , born to die--
Shall fill with tears affection's eye;
Shall touch, with eloquence confest,
The chords which vibrate in her breast!
Then hither bring the early friend,
With whom your bounding hearts unbend;
Till then, in vain the Fête prepared--
What Fête, unless by friendship shar'd?
Together, happy band! advance;
Together frame the sportive dance;
Together tread the mimic stage,
The TALMAS of another age;
And then, to crown this favor'd night,
Unquestion'd symbol of delight,
The soaring rocket swift shall rise,
And, sweeping, gild the midnight skies;
Bright wheels of fire shall rapid turn;
And suns, that soon must set, shall burn;
SAINT HELEN , with a smile, shall view
Her rites all paid in order due.
The Saint, become my patron now,
To her and you I breathe my vow:
Listen, dear Boys! nor take amiss
A lesson, with a parting kiss--
Your life has clos'd its baby span,
And childhood ripens into man:
On youth's gay threshold now ye tread;
The path unfolds, with roses spread,
That leads the unsuspecting guest
Where Pleasure holds her Circean feast;
With bosoms yet from evil free,
Now promise to the Saint and me,
Oft as the years, on circling wing,
This fond returning day shall bring,
While o'er the world ye lightly roam,
Far from the long-lost scene of home,
This day in Pleasure's course to pause,
This day let Reason plead her cause!
When come the years--for come they must--
When her ye love is laid in dust;
Her who for you has learn'd to prove
A mother's care--a mother's love!
From you all ill has sought to chase,
And fill a mother's vacant place:
Still on this day, to duty true,
Remember that she liv'd for you!
Ah! give her one recording sigh,
Nor pass this day with tearless eye!
Still may its chosen hours impart
The throb of virtue to the heart,
And be the talisman whose spell
Shall Passion's wild delirium quell;
Controul, with some good angel's power,
Seduction in her smiling hour.
This day, from all her wiles secure,
With nobler hopes, with purpose pure,
Resolve to feel that best delight
Reserv'd for those who live aright:
And thus, dear Boys! your tribute pay;
Thus consecrate SAINT HELEN'S DAY!
FAIR OTAHEITE , fondly blest
By him who long was doom'd to brave
The fury of the Polar wave,
That fiercely mounts the frozen rock
Where the harsh sea-bird rears her nest,
And learns the raging surge to mock--
There Night, that loves eternal storm,
Deep and lengthened darkness throws,
And untried danger's doubtful form
Its half-seen horror shews!
While Nature, with a look so wild,
Leans on the cliffs, in chaos pil'd,
That here the aw'd, astonish'd mind
Forgets, in that o'erwhelming hour,
When her rude hands the storms unbind
In all the madness of her power,
That she who spreads the savage gloom,
That she can dress in melting grace,
In sportive Summer's lavish bloom,
The awful terrors of her face;
And wear the sweet perennial smile
That charms in OTAHEITE'S isle.
Yet, amid her fragrant bowers,
Where Spring, whose dewy fingers strew
O'er other lands some fleeting flowers,
Lives, in blossoms ever new;
Whence arose that shriek of pain?
Whence the tear that flows in vain?
Death! thy unrelenting hand
Bursts some transient, human band.
What art thou, Death?--terrific shade,
In unpierc'd gloom array'd!--
Oft will daring Fancy stray
Far in the central wastes, where night
Divides no cheering hour with day,
And unnam'd horrors meet her sight;
There thy form she dimly sees,
And round the shape unfinish'd throws
All her frantic vision shews,
When numbing fears her spirit freeze.
But can mortal voice declare,
If Fancy paints thee as thou art?--
Thy aspect may a terror wear
Her pencil never shall impart;
The eye that once on thee shall gaze
No more its stiffen'd orb can raise;
The lips that could thy power reveal,
Shall lasting silence instant seal.
In vain the icy hand we fold,
In vain the breast with tears we steep,
The heart that shar'd each pang is cold,
The vacant eye no more can weep.
Yet from the shore where Ganges rolls
His waves beneath the torrid ray,
To earth's chill verge, where o'er the poles
Falls the last beam of ling'ring day,
For ever sacred are the dead!
Sweet Fancy comes in sorrow's aid,
And bids the mourner lightly tread
Where th' insensate clay is laid;
Bids partial gloom the sod invest
By the mould'ring relics prest;
There lavish strews with sad delight,
Whate'er her consecrating power
Reveres, of herb or fruit, or flower,
And fondly weaves the various rite.
See! o'er OTAHEITE'S plain
Moves the long funereal train;
Slow the pallid corse they bear,
Oft they breathe the solemn prayer.
Where the Ocean bathes the land,
Thrice and thrice, with pious hand,
The priest, where high the billow springs,
From the wave unsullied, flings
Waters pure, that sprinkled near,
Sanctify the hallow'd bier;
But never may one drop profane
The relics with forbidden stain!
Now around the fun'ral shrine,
Led in mystic mazes, twine
Garlands, where the plantain weaves
With the palm's luxuriant leaves,
And o'er each sacred knot is spread
The plant devoted to the dead.
Five pale moons with trembling light
Shall gaze upon the lengthen'd rite;
Shall see distracted beauty tear
The tresses of her flowing hair;
Those graceful locks, no longer dear,
She wildly scatters o'er the bier,
And frantic gives the frequent wound
That purples with her blood the ground!
Where along the western sky
Day's reflected colours die,
And twilight rules the doubtful hour
Ere slow-pac'd night resumes her power,
Mark the cloud that lingers still
Darkly on the hanging hill:
There the disembodied mind
Hears, upon the hollow wind,
Low, in mournful cadence thrown,
Sorrow's oft repeated moan--
Still some human passions sway
The spirit, late immers'd in clay;
Still the hopeless sigh is dear,
Still belov'd the fruitless tear!
Five waning moons with wand'ring light
Have past the shadowy bound of night,
And mingled their departing ray
With the soft fires of early day;
Let the last sad rites be paid,
Grateful to the conscious shade.
Let the priest with pious care
Now the wasted relics bear,
Where the MORAI'S awful gloom
Shrouds the consecrated tomb.
Let the plantain lift its head;
Cherish'd emblem of the dead;
Slow, and solemn, o'er the grave
Let the twisted plumage wave,
Symbol hallow'd and divine
Of the god who guards the shrine.
Hark!--that shriek of strange despair
Never shall disturb the air;
Never, never shall it rise,
But for Nature's broken ties!--
Bright Crescent! that with lucid smile
Gild'st the MORAI'S lofty pile;
Whose broad lines of shadow throw
A gloomy horror far below,
Witness, O recording moon,
All the rites are duly done;
Be the faithful tribute o'er,
The hov'ring spirit asks no more!
Mortals, cease the pile to tread,
Leave to silence, leave the dead.
But where may she who loves to stray
'Mid shadows of funereal gloom,
And courts the sadness of the tomb,
Where may she seek that proud MORAI ,
Whose dear memorial points the place
Where fell the friend of human race?
Ye lonely Isles, on Ocean's bound,
Ye bloom'd thro' Time's long flight unknown,
Till Cook the untrack'd billow past!
Till he along the surges cast
Philanthropy's connecting zone,
And spread her loveliest blessings round!--
Not like that murd'rous band he came,
Who stain'd with blood the new-found West;
Nor as, with unrelenting breast,
From BRITAIN'S free, enlightened land,
Her sons now seek ANGOLA'S strand,*
The ties most sacred to unbind,--
To load with chains a brother's frame,
And plunge a dagger in the mind;
Mock the sharp anguish bleeding there
Of nature in her last despair!
Great COOK ! Ambition's lofty flame,
So oft directed to destroy,
Led thee to circle with thy name
The smile of love, and hope, and joy!
Those fires that lend the dang'rous blaze
The devious comet trails afar,
Might form the pure, benignant rays
That gild the morning's gentle star.
Sure, where the hero's ashes rest,
The nations late emerg'd from night
Still haste--with love's unwearied care,
That spot in lavish flowers is drest,
And fancy's dear, inventive rite
Still paid with fond observance there?--
Ah, no! around his fatal grave
No lavish flowers were ever strew'd,
No votive gift was ever laid--
His blood a savage shore bedew'd!
His mangled limbs, one hasty prayer,
One pious tear by friendship paid,
Were cast upon the raging wave!
Deep in the wild abyss he lies,
Far from the cherish'd scene of home;
Far, far from her whose faithful sighs
A husband's trackless course pursue;
Whose tender fancy loves to roam
With him o'er lands and oceans new;
And gilds with hope's deluding form
The gloomy pathway of the storm!
Yet, Cook! immortal wreathes are thine!
While Albion's grateful toil shall raise
The marble tomb, the trophied bust,
For ages faithful to its trust;
While, eager to record thy praise,
She bids the muse of history twine
The chaplet of undying fame,
And tell each polish'd land thy worth,
The ruder natives of the earth
Shall oft repeat thy honour'd name,
While infants catch the frequent sound,
And learn to lisp the oral tale,
Whose fond remembrance shall prevail
Till Time has reach'd her destin'd bound!