To The Lady Charlotte Rawdon.

A poem by Thomas Moore


Not many months have now been dreamed away
Since yonder sun, beneath whose evening ray
Our boat glides swiftly past these wooded shores,
Saw me where Trent his mazy current pours,
And Donington's old oaks, to every breeze,
Whisper the tale of by-gone centuries;--
Those oaks, to me as sacred as the groves,
Beneath whose shade the pious Persian roves,
And hears the spirit-voice of sire, or chief,
Or loved mistress, sigh in every leaf.
There, oft, dear Lady, while thy lip hath sung
My own unpolished lays, how proud I've hung
On every tuneful accent! proud to feel.
That notes like mine should have the fate to steal,
As o'er thy hallowing lip they sighed along.
Such breath of passion and such soul of song.
Yes,--I have wondered, like some peasant boy
Who sings, on Sabbath-eve, his strains of joy,
And when he hears the wild, untutored note
Back to his ear on softening echoes float,
Believes it still some answering spirit's tone,
And thinks it all too sweet to be his own!

I dreamt not then that, ere the rolling year
Had filled its circle, I should wander here
In musing awe; should tread this wondrous world,
See all its store of inland waters hurled
In one vast volume down Niagara's steep,
Or calm behold them, in transparent sleep,
Where the blue hills of old Toronto shed
Their evening shadows o'er Ontario's bed;
Should trace the grand Cadaraqui, and glide
Down the white rapids of his lordly tide
Through massy woods, mid islets flowering fair,
And blooming glades, where the first sinful pair
For consolation might have weeping trod,
When banished from the garden of their God,
Oh, Lady! these are miracles, which man,
Caged in the bounds of Europe's pigmy span,
Can scarcely dream of,--which his eye must see
To know how wonderful this world can be!

But lo,--the last tints of the west decline,
And night falls dewy o'er these banks of pine.
Among the reeds, in which our idle boat
Is rocked to rest, the wind's complaining note
Dies like a half-breathed whispering of flutes;
Along the wave the gleaming porpoise shoots,
And I can trace him, like a watery star,[1]
Down the steep current, till he fades afar
Amid the foaming breakers' silvery light.
Where yon rough rapids sparkle through the night.
Here, as along this shadowy bank I stray,
And the smooth glass-snake,[2] glid-o'er my way,
Shows the dim moonlight through his scaly form,
Fancy, with all the scene's enchantment warm,
Hears in the murmur of the nightly breeze
Some Indian Spirit warble words like these:--

From the land beyond the sea,
Whither happy spirits flee;
Where, transformed to sacred doves,[3]
Many a blessed Indian roves
Through the air on wing, as white
As those wondrous stones of light,[4]
Which the eye of morning counts
On the Apalachian mounts,--
Hither oft my flight I take
Over Huron's lucid lake,
Where the wave, as clear as dew,
Sleeps beneath the light canoe,
Which, reflected, floating there,
Looks as if it hung in air.

Then, when I have strayed a while
Through the Manataulin isle,[5]
Breathing all its holy bloom,
Swift I mount me on the plume
Of my Wakon-Bird,[6] and fly
Where, beneath a burning sky,
O'er the bed of Erie's lake
Slumbers many a water-snake,
Wrapt within the web of leaves,
Which the water-lily weaves.[7]
Next I chase the floweret-king
Through his rosy realm of spring;
See him now, while diamond hues
Soft his neck and wings suffuse,
In the leafy chalice sink,
Thirsting for his balmy drink;
Now behold him all on fire,
Lovely in his looks of ire,
Breaking every infant stem,
Scattering every velvet gem,
Where his little tyrant lip
Had not found enough to sip.

Then my playful hand I steep
Where the gold-thread loves to creep,
Cull from thence a tangled wreath,
Words of magic round it breathe,
And the sunny chaplet spread
O'er the sleeping fly-bird's head,
Till, with dreams of honey blest,
Haunted, in his downy nest,
By the garden's fairest spells,
Dewy buds and fragrant bells,
Fancy all his soul embowers
In the fly-bird's heaven of flowers.

Oft, when hoar and silvery flakes
Melt along the ruffled lakes,
When the gray moose sheds his horns,
When the track, at evening, warns
Weary hunters of the way
To the wigwam's cheering ray,
Then, aloft through freezing air,
With the snow-bird soft and fair
As the fleece that heaven flings
O'er his little pearly wings,
Light above the rocks I play,
Where Niagara's starry spray,
Frozen on the cliff, appears
Like a giant's starting tears.
There, amid the island-sedge,
Just upon the cataract's edge,
Where the foot of living man
Never trod since time began,
Lone I sit, at close of day,
While, beneath the golden ray,
Icy columns gleam below,
Feathered round with falling snow,
And an arch of glory springs,
Sparkling as the chain of rings
Round the neck of virgins hung,--
Virgins, who have wandered young
O'er the waters of the west
To the land where spirits rest!

Thus have I charmed, with visionary lay,
The lonely moments of the night away;
And now, fresh daylight o'er the water beams!
Once more, embarked upon the glittering streams,
Our boat flies light along the leafy shore,
Shooting the falls, without a dip of oar
Or breath of zephyr, like the mystic bark
The poet saw, in dreams divinely dark,
Borne, without sails, along the dusky flood,
While on its deck a pilot angel stood,
And, with his wings of living light unfurled,
Coasted the dim shores of another world!

Yet, oh! believe me, mid this mingled maze
Of Nature's beauties, where the fancy strays
From charm to charm, where every floweret's hue
Hath something strange, and every leaf is new,--
I never feel a joy so pure and still
So inly felt, as when some brook or hill,
Or veteran oak, like those remembered well,
Some mountain echo or some wild-flower's smell,
(For, who can say by what small fairy ties
The memory clings to pleasure as it flies?)
Reminds my heart of many a silvan dream
I once indulged by Trent's inspiring stream;
Of all my sunny morns and moonlight nights
On Donington's green lawns and breezy heights.

Whether I trace the tranquil moments o'er
When I have seen thee cull the fruits of lore,
With him, the polished warrior, by thy side,
A sister's idol and a nation's pride!
When thou hast read of heroes, trophied high
In ancient fame, and I have seen thine eye
Turn to the living hero, while it read,
For pure and brightening comments on the dead;--
Or whether memory to my mind recalls
The festal grandeur of those lordly halls,
When guests have met around the sparkling board,
And welcome warmed the cup that luxury poured;
When the bright future Star of England's throne,
With magic smile, hath o'er the banquet shone,
Winning respect, nor claiming what he won,
But tempering greatness, like an evening sun
Whose light the eye can tranquilly admire,
Radiant, but mild, all softness, yet all fire;--
Whatever hue my recollections take,
Even the regret, the very pain they wake
Is mixt with happiness;--but, ah! no more--
Lady! adieu--my heart has lingered o'er
Those vanished times, till all that round me lies,
Stream, banks, and bowers have faded on my eyes!

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