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Written on the voyage to India.
[A BREEZE AT MID-DAY.]
The distant haze, like clouds of silvery dust,
Now sparkles in the sun. The freshening breeze
Whitens the liquid plain ; and like a steed
With proud impatience fired, the glorious ship
Quick bounds exultant, and with rampant prow
Off Alings the glittering foam. Around her wake,
A radiant milky way, the sea-
Their circling flight, or slowly sweeping wide
O'er boundless ocean, graze with drooping wing
The brightly-crested waves.
Each sudden surge,
Up-dashed, appears a momentary tree
Fringed with the hoar frost of a wintry morn;
And then, like blossoms from a breeze-stirred bough,
The light spray strews the deep.
How fitfully the struggling day-beams pierce
The veil of heaven !-On yon far line of light,
That like a range of breakers streaks the main,
The ocean swan-the snow-white Albatross,
Gleams like a dazzling foam-flake in the sun !-
Gaze upward--and behold, where parted clouds
Disclose ethereal depths, its dark-hued mate
Hangs motionless on arch-resembling wings,
As though 'twere painted on the sky's blue vault.
Sprinkling the air, the speck-like petrels form
A living shower! Awhile their pinions gray
Mingle scarce-seen among the misty clouds,
Till suddenly their white breasts catch the light,
And flash like silver stars!
[A STORM-AT NIGHT.]
Yon cloud-arch spreads,—the black waves curl and foam
Beneath the coming tempest ;-Lo! 'tis here !
The fierce insatiate winds, like demons, howl
Around the labouring bark. Her snow-white sails,
Outspread like wings of some gigantic bird
Struck with dismay, are fluttering in the gale,
And sound like far-off thunder. Now the heart
Of ocean quails to its profoundest depths ;--
The dark heavens groan,—the wildly scattered clouds,
Like routed hosts, are thickly hurrying past
The dim-discovered stars. Up lofty hills,
Or down wide-yawning vales, the lone ship drives
As if to swift destruction. Still she braves,
Though rudely buffetted by tempest-fiends,
The elemental war.
Ah! that dread wave,
As though some huge sea-monster dealt the blow,
Hath made her start and tremble !-Yet again,
For one hushed moment, with recovered power,
She proudly glides in majesty serene,
Calm as a silver cloud on summer skies,
Or yon pale moon amid the strife of heaven!
How terrible, yet glorious is the scene !
How swells the gazer's heart !—The mighty main
Heaves its stupendous mountains to the sky,
Their sides unruffled by the fretful waves
Of less terrific seas.
The billows form
Moving Atlantic Alps, whose peaks alone
Are shattered by the wind that hurls the foam
Adown the dreary vales. In wintry realms
The viewless pinions of the northern breeze,
Thus shake the snow-wreaths from the hoary heads
Of everlasting hills !
An awful pause! -
Again the quick-reviving tempest roars
With fiercer rage !—These changes image well
The sullen calm of comfortless despair,
The restless tumult of the guilty heart !
[A CALM—AT MID-DAY.] Now in the fervid noon the smooth bright sea Heaves slowly, for the wandering winds are dead That stirred it into foam. The lonely ship Rolls wearily, and idly flap the sails Against the creaking mast. The lightest sound Is lost not on the ear, and things minute Attract the observant eye.
The scaly tribe,
Bright-winged, that upward flash from torrid seas,
Like startled birds, now burst their glassy caves,
And glitter in the sun ; while diamond drops
From off their briny pinions fall like rain,
And leave a dimpled track.
The horizon clouds
Are motionless, and yield fantastic forms
Of antique towers, vast woods and frozen lakes,
Huge rampant beasts, and giant phantoms seen
In wildering visions only.
High o'er head,
Dazzling the sight, hangs, quivering like a lark,
The silver Tropic-bird ;-at length it flits
Far in cerulean depths and disappears,
Save for a moment, when with fitful gleam
It waves its wings in light. The pale thin moon,
Her crescent floating on the azure air,
Shows like a white bark sleeping on the main
When not a ripple stirs. Yon bright clouds form,
(Ridged as the ocean sands, with spots of blue,
Like water left by the receding tide,)
A fair celestial shore !-How beautiful !
The spirit of eternal peace hath thrown
A spell upon the scene ! The wide blue floor
Of the Atlantic world—a sky-girt plain-
Now looks as never more the Tempest's tread
Would break its shining surface ; and the ship
Seems destined ne'er again to brave the gale,
Anchored for ever on the silent deep!
[SUN-RISE.] The stars have melted in the morning air,-The white moon waneth dim.-The glorious sun, Slow-rising from the cold cerulean main, Now shoots through broken clouds his upward beams, That kindle into day. At length his orb, Reddening the ocean verge, with sudden blaze Awakes a smiling world ;-the dull gray mist Is scattered, and the sea-view opens wide!
- The glassy waves Are touched with joy, and dance in sparkling throngs Around the gallant bark. The roseate clouds Rest on the warm horizon,-like far hills Their radiant outlines gleam in yellow light,
And o’er their shadowy range a thin scud floats,
Like wreaths of smoke from far-off beacon-fires.
The deep blue vault is streaked with golden bars,
Like veins in wealthy mines; and where the rays
Of Day's refulgent orb are lost in air,
In small round masses shine the fleecy clouds,
As bright as snow-clad bowers when sudden gleams
Flash on the frozen earth.
The gorgeous steps of heaven, the dazzling sun
Contracts his disk, and rapidly assumes
A silver radiance-glittering like a globe
Of diamond spars !
[SUN-SET.] Now near the flushed horizon brightly glows The red dilated sun. Around his path Aerial phantoms float in liquid light, And steeped in beauty, momently present Fresh forms, and strange varieties of hue, As fair and fleeting as our early dreams! Behold him rest on yon cloud-mountain's peak,Touched with celestial fire, volcano-like, The dazzling summit burns ;-eruptive flames Of molten gold with ruddy lustre tinge The western heavens, and shine with mellowed light Through the transparent crests of countless waves !
The scene is changed—behind the ethereal mount
Now fringed with light-the day-god downward speeds
His unseen way ;-yet where his kindling steps
Lit the blue vault, the radiant trace remains,