The Spirit Of Discovery By Sea: Book The Third.

A poem by William Lisle Bowles

My heart has sighed in secret, when I thought
That the dark tide of time might one day close,
England, o'er thee, as long since it has closed
On Egypt and on Tyre: that ages hence,
From the Pacific's billowy loneliness,
Whose tract thy daring search revealed, some isle
Might rise in green-haired beauty eminent,
And like a goddess, glittering from the deep,
Hereafter sway the sceptre of domain
From pole to pole; and such as now thou art,
Perhaps NEW-HOLLAND be. For who shall say
That made the world, hath purposed! Thoughts like these,
Though visionary, rise; and sometimes move
A moment's sadness, when I think of thee,
My country, of thy greatness, and thy name,
Among the nations; and thy character,
Though some few spots be on thy flowing robe,
Of loveliest beauty: I have never passed
Through thy green hamlets on a summer's morn,
Nor heard thy sweet bells ring, nor seen the youths
And smiling maidens of thy villages,
Gay in their Sunday tire, but I have said,
With passing tenderness, Live, happy land,
Where the poor peasant feels his shed, though small,
An independence and a pride, that fill
His honest heart with joy, joy such as they
Who crowd the mart of men may never feel!
Such, England, is thy boast. When I have heard
The roar of ocean bursting 'round thy rocks,
Or seen a thousand thronging masts aspire,
Far as the eye could reach, from every port
Of every nation, streaming with their flags
O'er the still mirror of the conscious Thames,
Yes, I have felt a proud emotion swell
That I was British-born; that I had lived
A witness of thy glory, my most loved
And honoured country; and a silent prayer
Would rise to Heaven, that Fame and Peace, and Love
And Liberty, might walk thy vales, and sing
Their holy hymns, while thy brave arm repelled
Hostility, even as thy guardian cliffs
Repel the dash of that dread element
Which calls me, lingering on the banks of Thames,
On to my destined voyage, by the shores
Of Asia, and the wreck of cities old,
Ere yet we burst into the wilder deep
With Gama; or the huge Atlantic waste
With bold Columbus stem; or view the bounds
Of field-ice, stretching to the southern pole,
With thee, benevolent, lamented Cook!
Tyre be no more! said the ALMIGHTY voice:
But thou too, Monarch of the world,[173] whose arm
Rent the proud bulwarks of the golden queen
Of cities, throned upon her subject seas,
The whole earth is at rest:
"They break forth into singing:" Lebanon
Waves all his hoary pines, and seems to say,
No feller now comes here; HELL from beneath
Is moved to meet thy coming; it stirs up
The DEAD for thee; the CHIEF ONES of the earth,
Tyre and the nations, they all speak and say,
Art thou become like us! Thy pomp brought down
E'en to the dust! The noise of viols ceased,
The worm spread under thee, the crawling worm
To cover thee! How art thou fall'n from heaven,
Son of the morning! In thy heart thou saidst,
I will ascend to Heaven; I will exalt

My throne above the stars of God! Die, die,
Blasphemer! As a carcase under foot,
Defiled and trodden, so be thou cast out!
And SHE, the great, the guilty Babel, SHE
Who smote the wasted cities, and the world
Made as a wilderness, SHE, in her turn,
Sinks to the gulf oblivious at the voice
Of HIM who sits in judgment on her crimes!
Who, o'er her palaces and buried towers,
Shall bid the owl hoot, and the bittern scream;
And on her pensile groves and pleasant shades
Pour the deep waters of forgetfulness.
On that same night, when with a cry she fell,
(Like her own mighty idol dashed to earth,)
There was a strange eclipse, and long laments
Were heard, and muttering thunders o'er the towers
Of the high palace where his wassail loud
Belshazzar kept, mocking the GOD OF HEAVEN,
And flushed with impious mirth; for BEL had left
With sullen shriek his golden shrine, and sat,
With many a gloomy apparition girt,
NISROCH and NEBO chief, in the dim sphere
Of mooned ASTORETH, whose orb now rolled
In darkness: They their earthly empire mourned;
Meantime the host of Cyrus through the night
Silent advanced more nigh; and at that hour,
In the torch-blazing hall of revelry,
The fingers of a shadowy hand distinct
Came forth, and unknown figures marked the wall,
Searing the eye-balls of the starting king:
Tyre is avenged; Babel is fall'n, is fall'n!
Bel and her gods are shattered!
PRINCE, to thee
Called by the voice of God to execute
His will on earth, and raised to Persia's throne,
CYRUS, all hearts pay homage. Touched with tints
Most clear by the historian's magic art,
Thy features wear a gentleness and grace
Unlike the stern cold aspect and the frown
Of the dark chiefs of yore, the gloomy clan
Of heroes, from humanity and love
Removed: To thee a brighter character
Belongs, high dignity, unbending truth,
Yet Nature; not that lordly apathy
Which confidence and human sympathy
Represses, but a soul that bids all hearts
Smiling approach. We almost burn in thought
To kiss the hand that loosed Panthea's chains,
And bless him with a parent's, husband's tear,
Who stood a guardian angel in distress
To the unfriended, and the beautiful,
Consigned a helpless slave. Thy portrait, touched
With tints of softest light, thus wins all hearts
To love thee; but severer policy,
Cyrus, pronounces otherwise: she hears
No stir of commerce on the sullen marge
Of waters that along thy empire's verge
Beat cheerless; no proud moles arise; no ships,
Freighted with Indian wealth, glide o'er the main
From cape to cape. But on the desert sands
Hurtles thy numerous host, seizing, in thought
Rapacious, the rich fields of Hindostan,
As the poor savage fells the blooming tree
To gain its tempting fruit; but woe the while!
For in the wilderness the noise is lost
Of all thy archers; they have ceased; the wind
Blows o'er them, and the voice of judgment cries:
So perish they who grasp with avarice
Another's blessed portion, and disdain
That interchange of mutual good, that crowns
The slow, sure toil of commerce.
It was thine,
Immortal son of Macedon! to hang
In the high fane of maritime renown
The fairest trophies of thy fame, and shine,
THEN only like a god, when thy great mind
Swayed in its master council the deep tide
Of things, predestining th' eventful roll
Of commerce, and uniting either world,
Europe and Asia, in thy vast design.
Twas when the victor, in his proud career,
O'er ravaged Hindostan, had now advanced
Beyond Hydaspes; on the flowery banks
Of Hyphasis, with banners thronged, his camp
Was spread. On high he bade the altars rise,
The awful records to succeeding years
Of his long march of glory, and to point
The spot where, like the thunder rolled away,
His army paused. Now shady eve came down;
The trumpet sounded to the setting sun,
That looked from his illumed pavilion, calm
Upon the scene of arms, as if, all still,
And lovely as his parting light, the world
Beneath him spread; nor clangours, nor deep groans,
Were heard, nor victory's shouts, nor sighs, nor shrieks,
Were ever wafted from a bleeding land,
After the havoc of a conqueror's sword.
So calm the sun declined; when from the woods,
That shone to his last beam, a Brahmin old
Came forth. His streaming beard shone in the ray,
That slanted o'er his feeble frame; his front
Was furrowed. To the sun's last light he cast
A look of sorrow, then in silence bowed
Before the conqueror of the world. At once
All, as in death, was still. The victor chief
Trembled, he knew not why; the trumpet ceased
Its clangor, and the crimson streamer waved
No more in folds insulting to the Lord
Of the reposing world. The pallid front
Of the meek man seemed for a moment calm,
Yet dark and thronging thoughts appeared to swell
His beating heart. He paused, and then abrupt:
Victor, avaunt! he cried,
Hence! and the banners of thy pride
Bear to the deep! Behold on high
Yon range of mountains mingled with the sky!
It is the place
Where the great Father of the human race
Rested, when all the world and all its sounds
Ceased; and the ocean that surrounds
The earth, leaped from its dark abode
Beneath the mountains, and enormous flowed,
The green earth deluging! List, soldier, list!
And dread His might no mortal may resist.
Great Bramah rested, hushed in sleep,
When Hayagraiva[174] came,
With mooned horns and eyes of flame,
And bore the holy Vedas[175] to the deep.
Far from the sun's rejoicing ray,
Beneath the huge abyss, the buried treasures lay.
Then foamed the billowy desert wide,
And all that breathed, they died,
Sunk in the rolling waters: such the crime
And violence of earth. But he above,
Great Vishnu, moved with pitying love,
Preserved the pious king, whose ark sublime
Floated, in safety borne:
For his stupendous horn,
Blazing like gold, and many a rood
Extended o'er the dismal flood,
The precious freight sustained, till on the crest
Of Himakeel,[176] yon mountain high,
That darkly mingles with the sky,
Where many a griffin roams, the hallowed ark found rest.
And Heaven decrees that here
Shall cease thy slaughtering spear:
Enough we bleed, enough we weep,
Hence, victor, to the deep!
Ev'n now along the tide
I see thy ships triumphant ride:
I see the world of trade emerge
From ocean's solitude! What fury fires
My breast! The flood, the flood retires,[177]
And owns its future sovereign! Urge
Thy destined way; what countless pennants stream!
(Or is it but the shadow of a dream?)
Ev'n now old Indus hails
Thy daring prows in long array,
That o'er the lone seas gliding,
Around the sea-gods riding,
Speed to Euphrates' shores their destined way.
Fill high the bowl of mirth!
From west to east the earth
Proclaims thee Lord; shall the blue main
Confine thy reign?
But tremble, tyrant; hark in many a ring,
With language dread
Above thy head,
The dark Assoors[178] thy death-song sing.
What mortal blow
Hath laid the king of nations low?
No hand: his own despair.
But shout, for the canvas shall swell to the air,
Thy ships explore
Unknown Persia's winding shore,
While the great dragon rolls his arms in vain.
And see, uprising from the level main,
A new and glorious city springs;
Hither speed thy woven wings,
That glance along the azure tide;
Asia and Europe own thy might;
The willing seas of either world unite:
Thy name shall consecrate the sands,
And glittering to the sky the mart of nations stands.
He spoke, and rushed into the thickest wood.
With flashing eyes the impatient monarch cried,
Yes, by the Lybian Ammon and the gods
Of Greece, thou bid'st me on, the self-same track
My spirit pointed; and, let death betide,
My name shall live in glory!
At his word
The pines descend; the thronging masts aspire;
The novel sails swell beauteous o'er the curves
Of INDUS; to the Moderators' song[179]
The oars keep time, while bold Nearchus guides
Aloft the gallies. On the foremost prow
The monarch from his golden goblet pours
A full libation to the gods, and calls
By name the mighty rivers, through whose course
He seeks the sea. To Lybian Ammon loud
The songs ascend; the trumpets bray; aloft
The streamers fly, whilst on the evening wave
Majestic to the main the fleet descends.

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