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But when the tide left bare its upright roots,
Securing prompt retreat from sudden danger: A wood on piles suspended in the air;
The pregnant turtle, stealing out at eve, Such too the Indian fig, that built itself
With anxious eye, and trembling heart, explored Into a sylvan temple arch'd aloof
The loneliest coves, and in the loose warm sand With airy isles and living colonnades,
which the sun hatch'd: Where nations might have worshipp'd God in peacc. llence the young brood, that never knew a parent, From year to year their fruits ungather'd fell;
Unhurrow'd and by instinct sought the sea ;
When launch'd in their maternal element.
The vision of that brooding world went on; All this appear'd accomplish'd in the space
Millions of beings yet more admirable Between the morning and the evening star:
Than all that went before them now appear'd; So, in his third day's work, Jehovah spake,
Flocking from every point of heaven, and filling And Earth, an infant, naked as she came
Eye, ear, and mind with objects, sounds, emotions Out of the womb of chaos, straight put on
Akin to livelier sympathy and love Her beautiful attire, and deck'd her robe
'Than reptiles, fishes, insects, could inspire. Of verdure with ten thousand glorious flowers,
--- Birds, the free tenants of land, air, and ocean,
Thick without burthen, close as fishes' scales,
Or loose as full-blown poppies to the breeze; Nor were those woods without inhabitants
With wings that might have had a soul within them, Besides the ephemera of carth and air:
They bore their owners by such sweet enchantment; -Where glid the sunbeams through the latticed boughs, | -Birds, small and great, of endless shapes and colours, And fell like dew-drops on the spangled ground, Hlere flew and perch'd, there swam and dived at pleasure; To light the diamond-beetle on his way;
Watchful and agile, uttering voices wild – Where cheerful openings let the sky look down And harsh, yet in accordance with the waves Into the very heart of solitude,
Upon the beach, the winds in caverns moaning, On little garden-plots of social flowers,
Or winds and waves abroad upon the water. That crowded from the shades to peep at daylight; Some sought their food among the finny shoals, -Or wliere impermeable foliage made
Swift darting from the clouds, emerging soon Midnight at noon, and chill, damp horror reign'd With slender captives glittering in their beaks; O'er dead, fall’n leaves and slimy funguses;
These in recesses of steep crags constructed - Reptiles were quicken'd into various birth.
Their eyries inaccessible, and train'd
Their hardy broods to forage in all weathers:
Pursuing insects through the boundless air :
In hollow trees or thickets these conceal'd The scorpion, many-eyed, with sting of fire,
Their exquisitely woven nests; where lay Bred there,- the legion-fiend of creeping things; Their callow offspring, quict as the down Terribly beautiful, the serpent lay,
On their own breasts, till from her search the dam Wreath'd like a coronet of gold and jewels,
With laden bill return'd, and shared the meal Fit for a tyrant's brow; anon he flew
Among her clamorous suppliants, all agape; Straight as an arrow shot from his own rings,
Then, cowering o'er them with expanded wings, And struck his victim, shrieking ere it went
She felt how sweet it is to be a mother. Down his strain'd throat, that open sepulchre.
Of these, a few, with melody untaught,
Turn'd all the air to music within hearing, Amphibious monsters haunted the lagoon;
while bolder quiristers The hippopotamus, amidst the food,
On loftiest branches strain'd their clarion-pipes, Flexile and active as the smallest swimmer;
And made the forest echo to their screams But on the bank, ill balanced and infirm,
Discordant, -yet there was no discord there, He grazed the berbage, with huge head declined, But temper'd harmony; all tones combining, Or lean'd to rest against some ancient trec.
In the rich contluence of ten thousand tongues, The crocodile, the dragon of the waters,
To tell of joy and to inspire it. Who In iron panoply, fell as the plague,
Could hear such concert, and not join in chorus ? And merciless as famine, cranch'd his prey,
Not l;--sometimes entranced, I seem'd to float
The maze of voices, and with eye as nice
Therein, shall perish, as to me they seem'd To perish in that ruthless hurricane.
Till my soul enter'd into him, and felt
In storm and calm, through every change of scason, Long flourish'd thus that era of our isle; It could not last for ever: mark the end.
NATURE and Time were twins. Companions still,
A cloud arose amid the tranquil heaven, Like a man's hand, but held a hurricane Within its grasp. Compress'd into a point, The tempest struggled to break loose. No breath Was stirring, yet the billows roll'd aloof, And the air moan'd portentously; ere long The sky was hidden, dark ness to be felt Confounded all things; land and water vanisli’d, And there was silence through the universe; Silence, that made my soul as desolate As the blind solitude around. Methought That I had passid the bitterness of death Without the agony-had, unaware, Enter'd the unseen world, and in the gap Between the life that is and that to come, Awaited judgment. Fear and trembling seized All that was mortal or immortal in me: A moment, and the gates of Paradise Might open to receive, or Hell be moved To meet me. Strength and spirit fail'd; Eternity enclosed me, and I knew not, Knew not, even then, my destiny. To doubt Was to despair ;-1 doubled and despair d. Then horrible deliriuin whirld me down To ocean's nethermost recess; the waves Disparting freely, let me fall, and fall, Lower and lower, passive as a stone, Yet rack'd with miserable pangs, that gave The sense of vain but violent resistance: And still the depths grew deeper; still the ground Receded from my feet as I approach'd it. O how I long'd to light on rocks, that sunk Like quicksands ere I couch'd them; or to bide In caverns ever open to inyulf me, But, like the horizon's limit, never nearer!
I gazed in consternation on the wreck
Surely the feller hath come up among ye,
Thus raved I; but I wrong'd thee, glorious Nature! With whom adversity is but transition. Thou never didst despair, wert never foild, Nor weary with exhaustion, since the day, When, at the word, « Let there be light,» light sprang, And show'd thee rising from primeval darkness, That fell back like a veil from thy young form, And Chaos fled before the apparition.
Meanwhile the irrepressible tornado,
the island, all was calm,
till leaven, and earth, and sea, with all
While yet mine eye was mourning o'er the scene, Nature and Time were working miracles : The isle was renovated ; grass and flowers Crept quietly around the fallen trees; A deeper soil embedded them, and o'er The common sepulchre of all their race Threw a rich covering of embroider'd turf, Lovely to look on as the tranquil main, When, in his noonward track, the unclouded sun Tints the green waves with every bue of heaveo.
More exquisitely brilliant and aërial
Not in voluptuous pastime revelling there, Than morn or evening's gaudier pageantry.
Among the rosy clouds, while orient heaven Amidst that burial of the mighty dead,
Flamed like the opening gates of Paradise, There was a resurrection from the dust
Whence issued forth the Angel of the sun, Of lowly plants, impatient for the light,
And gladden'd Nature with returning day: Long interrupted by o'ershadowing woods,
-Eager for food, their searching eyes they fix'd While in the womb of earth their embryos tarried,
On ocean's unrolld volume, from an height, Unfructifying, yet imperishable.
That brought immensity within their scope; Huge remnants of the forest stood apart,
Yet with such power of vision look'd they down, Like Tadmor’s pillars in the wilderness,
As though they watch'd the shell-fish slowly gliding Starting the traveller 'midst his thoughts of home; O'er sunken rocks, or climbing trees of coral. — Bare trunks of broken trees, that gave their heads On indefatigable wing upheld, To the wind's axe, but would not yield their roots Breath, pulse, existence, seem'd suspended in them : To the uptearing violence of the floods.
They were as pictures painted on the sky; From these a slender race of scions sprang,
Till suddenly, aslant, away they shot, Which with their filial arms embraced and shelter'd Like meteors changed from stars to gleams of lightning, The monumental relics of their sires;
And struck upon the deep; where, in wild play, But limited in number, scatter'd wide,
Their quarry flounder'd, unsuspecting harm, And slow of growth, they overran no more
With terrible voracity, they plunged
Their heads among the affrighted shoals, and bcat
A tempest on the surges with their wings, Meanwhile the sea-fowl, that survived the storm, Till flashing clouds of foam and spray conceal'd them, Whose rage had fleck'd the waves with shatter'd plumes Nimbly they seized and secreted their prey, And weltering carcasses, the prey of sharks,
Alive and wriggling in the elastic net, Came from their fastnesses among the rocks,
Which Nature hung beneath their grasping beaks; And multiplied like clouds when rains are brooding, Till, swoln with captures, the unwieldy burthen Or flowers, when clear warm sunshine follows rain. Clogg'd their slow flight, as heavily to land The inland birds had perish'd, nor again,
These mighty hunters of the deep return'd. By airy voyagers from shores unknown,
There on the cracged cliffs they perch'd at ease, Was silence broken on the unwooded plains :
Gorging their hapless victims one by one; Another race of wing'd inhabitants
Then full and weary, side by side, they slepi, Ere-long possess'd and peopled all the soil.
Till evening roused them to the chase again.
The sun had sunk where sky and ocean meet,
Harsh seems the ordinance, that life by life And each might seem the other; sky below,
Should be sustain'd; and yet when all must die, With richest garniture of clouds inlaid ;
And be like water spilt upon the ground, Ocean above with isles and continents,
Which none can gather up,—the speediest fate, Illumined from a source no longer seen :
Though violent and terrible, is best.
O with what horrors would creation groan,-
Famine and pestilence, disease, despair,
Anguish and pain in every hideous shape, That made the air sigh as they cut it through.
Had all to wait the slow decay of Nature! They gain'd upon the eye, and as they came,
Life were a martyrdom of sympathy; Enlarged, grew brighter, and display'd their forms Death, lingering, raging, writhing, shrieking torture; Amidst the golden evening; pearly-white,
The grave would be abolish'd; this gay world But ruby-tinctured. On the loftiest cliff
A valley of dry bones, a Golgotha, They settled, hovering ere they touch'd the ground,
In which the living stumbled o'er the dead,
Till they could fall no more, and blind perdition
'T was wibolom, mercy, goodness, that ordain'd And gratulation for that resting-place.
Life in such infinite profusion,- Death
So sure, so prompt, so multiform to those
No wrath to come, and have no heaven to lose.
Love found that lonely couple on their isle,
The noble birds, with skill spontaneous, framed
That waved in lights and shadows o'er the soil.
There, in sweet thraldom, yet unweening why, Ye future dwellers in the wilderness!,
The patient dam, who ne'er till now had known,
Parental instinct, brooded o'er her eges, At early dawn I mark'd them in the sky,
Long ere she found the curious secret out, Catching the morning colours on their plumes; That life was hatching in their brittle shells.
Then, from a wild rapacious bird of prey,
And buffet with the breakers on the reef, Tamed by the kindly process, she became
The Parents put them to severer proof : That gentlest of all living things—a mother;
Op bectling rocks the little ones were marshalld; Gentlest while yearning o'er her naked young, There, by endearments, stripes, example urged Fiercest when stirr'd by anger to defend them.
To try the void convexity of heaven,
Timorous at first they flutter'd round the verge,
Then put them forth again with steadier aim;
Now, gaining courage as they felt the wind
Dilate their feathers, fill their airy frames
And sail'd and soard where'er their guardians led; Yea, half unwillingly his post resign'd,
Ascending, hovering, wheeling, or alighting, When, home-sick with the absence of an hour, They search'd the deep in quest of pobler game She hurried back, and drove him from her seat Than yet their inexperience had encounter'd; With pecking bill, and cry of fond distress,
With these they battled in that element, Answer'd by him with murmurs of delight,
Where wings or fins were equally at home, Whose gutturals harsh to her were love's own music. Till, conquerors in many a desperate strife, Then, settling down, like foam upon the wave, They dragg’d their spoils to land, and gorged at leisure. White, flickering, effervescent, soon subsiding,
Thus perfected in all the arts of life, Her ruffled pinions smoothly she composed;
That simple Pelicans require,---save one, And, while beneath the comfort of her wings,
Which mother-bird did never teach her daughter, Her crowded progeny quite fill'd the nest,
- The inimitable art to build a nest; The balcyon sleeps not sounder, when the wind Is breathless, and the sea without a curl,
Love, for his own delightful school, reserving -Nor dreams the halcyon of serener days,
That mystery which novice never fail'd Or nights more beautiful with silent stars,
To learn infallibly when taught by him: Than, in that hour, the mother Pelican,
-Hence that small masterpiece of Nature's art, When the warm tumults of affection sunk
Still unimpair’d, still unimproved, remains Into calm sleep, and dreams of what they were,
The same in site, material, shape, and texture.
While --Dreams more delicious than reality.
kind a different structure frames,
All build alike of cach peculiar kind :
The nightingale, that dwelt in Adam's bower,
And pour'd her stream of music through his dreams; And the rank sea-mews wheeling round the cliffs.
The soaring lark, that led the eye of Eve Woe to the reptile then that ventured nigh;
Into the clouds, her thoughts into the heaven
Of heavens, where lark nor eye can penetrate;
The dove, that perch'd upon the Tree of Life,
And made lier bed among its thickest leaves;
All the wing'd habitants of Paradise,
Whose songs once mingled with the songs of Angels,
Wove their first nests as curiously and well
As the wood-minstrels in our evil day,
After the labours of six thousand years, Ere-long the thriving brood outgrew their cradle,
In which their ancestors have fail'd to add, Ran through the grass, and dabbled in the pools;
To alter or diminish, any thing No sooner denizens of earth than made
In that, of which Love only knows the secret, Free both of air and water ; day by day,
And teaches every mother for herself, New lessons, exercises, and amusemenis
Without the power to impart it to her offspring : Employ'd the old to teach, the young to learn.
--Thus perfected in all the arts of life,
That simple Pelicans require, save this,
the The Sire and Dam in swan-like beauty steering,
young Their Cygnets following through the foamy wake,
Gaily forsook their parents. Soon enthrallid
With love-alliances among themselves,
They built their nests, as happy instinct wrought
Within their bosoms, wakening powers unknown, Till on some minor fry, in reedy shallows, With flapping pinions and unsparing beaks,
Till sweet necessity was laid upon them; The well-taught scholars plied their double art,
They bred, and rear'd their little families, To fish in troubled waters, and secure
As they were train'd and disciplined before. The petty captives in their maiden pouches;
Thus wings were multiplied from year to year, Then hurry with their banquet to the shore,
And ere the patriarch-twain, in good old age, With feet, wings, breast, half-swimming and half- Resign'd their breath beside that ancient nest, flying.
In which themselves had nursed a hundred broods, But when their pens grow strong to fight the storm, The isle was peopled with their progeny.
Showers of bright humming-birds came down, and
Extracting honey, hidden in those bells,
Whose richest blooms grew pale beneath the blaze
Of twinkling winglets hovering o'er their petals,
Brilliant as rain-drops, when the western sun
Sees his own miniature of beams in each.
High on the cliffs, down on the shelly reef,
Or, wbere his kindred like a flock reposed,
Without a shepherd, on the grassy downs,
Smoothed his white fleece, and slumber'd in their
Wading through marshes, where the rank sea-weed
With spongy moss and flaccid lichens strove,
Flamingos, in their crimson tunics, stalk'd
On stately legs, with far-exploring eye;
Or fed and slept, in regimental lines,
Watch'd by their sentinels, whose clarion-screams
All in an instant woke the startled troop,
That mounted like a glorious exhalation,
And vanish'd through the welkin far away,
Nor paused till, on some lonely coast alighting,
Again their gorgeous cohort took the field.
The fierce sea-eagle, humble in attire,
In port terrific, from his lonely eyrie
(Itself a burthen for the tallest tree)
Look'd down o'er land and sea as his dominions : At midnight, queen among the minor stars,
Now, from long chase, descending with his prey,
Young seal or dolphin, in his deadly clutch,
He fed his caglets in the noon-day suu :
Nor less at midnight ranged the deep for gaine;
At length entrapp'd with his own talons, struck
Too deep to be withdrawn, where a strong shark,
Roused by the anguish, with impetuous plunge,
Draged his assailant down into the abyss,
Struggling in vain for liberty and life;
His young ones heard their parent's dying shrieks,
And watch'd in vain for his returning wing.
Here ran the stormy petrels on the waves,
As though they were the shadows of themselves
Reflected from a loftier flight through space.
The stern and gloomy raven haunted here,
Among vociferating crowds a stranger,
Whose hoarse, low, ominous croak disclaim'd com-
With those, upon the offal of whose meals
He gorged alone, or tore their own rank corses.
The heavy penguin, neither fish nor fowl,
With scaly feathers and with finny wings,
Plump'd stone-like from the rock into the gulf,
Rebounding upward swift as from a sling.
Through yielding water as through limpid air,
The cormorant, Death's living arrow, flew,
Nor ever miss'd a stroke, or dealt a second,
So true the infallible destroyer's aim.
Unnamed by man, possess'd those busy isles;