To The Marchioness Dowager Of Donegall.

A poem by Thomas Moore


Lady! where'er you roam, whatever land
Woos the bright touches of that artist hand;
Whether you sketch the valley's golden meads,
Where mazy Linth his lingering current leads;[1]
Enamored catch the mellow hues that sleep,
At eve, on Meillerie's immortal steep;
Or musing o'er the Lake, at day's decline,
Mark the last shadow on that holy shrine,[2]
Where, many a night, the shade of Tell complains
Of Gallia's triumph and Helvetia's chains;
Oh! lay the pencil for a moment by,
Turn from the canvas that creative eye,
And let its splendor, like the morning ray
Upon a shepherd's harp, illume my lay.

Yet, Lady, no--for song so rude as mine,
Chase not the wonders of your art divine;
Still, radiant eye, upon the canvas dwell;
Still, magic finger, weave your potent spell;
And, while I sing the animated smiles
Of fairy nature in these sun-born isles,
Oh, might the song awake some bright design,
Inspire a touch, or prompt one happy line,
Proud were my soul, to see its humble thought
On painting's mirror so divinely caught;
While wondering Genius, as he leaned to trace
The faint conception kindling into grace,
Might love my numbers for the spark they threw,
And bless the lay that lent a charm to you.

Say, have you ne'er, in nightly vision, strayed
To those pure isles of ever-blooming shade,
Which bards of old, with kindly fancy, placed
For happy spirits in the Atlantic waste?
There listening, while, from earth, each breeze that came
Brought echoes of their own undying fame,
In eloquence of eye, and dreams of song,
They charmed their lapse of nightless hours along:--
Nor yet in song, that mortal ear might suit,
For every spirit was itself a lute,
Where Virtue wakened, with elysian breeze,
Pure tones of thought and mental harmonies.

Believe me, Lady, when the zephyrs bland
Floated our bark to this enchanted land,--
These leafy isles upon the ocean thrown,
Like studs of emerald o'er a silver zone,--
Not all the charm, that ethnic fancy gave
To blessed arbors o'er the western wave,
Could wake a dream, more soothing or sublime,
Of bowers ethereal, and the Spirit's clime.

Bright rose the morning, every wave was still,
When the first perfume of a cedar hill
Sweetly awaked us, and, with smiling charms,
The fairy harbor woo'd us to its arms.[3]
Gently we stole, before the whispering wind,
Through plaintain shades, that round, like awnings, twined
And kist on either side the wanton sails,
Breathing our welcome to these vernal vales;
While, far reflected o'er the wave serene,
Each wooded island shed so soft a green
That the enamored keel, with whispering play,
Through liquid herbage seemed to steal its way.

Never did weary bark more gladly glide,
Or rest its anchor in a lovelier tide!
Along the margin, many a shining dome,
White as the palace of a Lapland gnome,
Brightened the wave;--in every myrtle grove
Secluded bashful, like a shrine of love,
Some elfin mansion sparkled through the shade;
And, while the foliage interposing played,
Lending the scene an ever-changing grace,
Fancy would love, in glimpses vague, to trace
The flowery capital, the shaft, the porch,[4]
And dream of temples, till her kindling torch
Lighted me back to all the glorious days
Of Attic genius; and I seemed to gaze
On marble, from the rich Pentelio mount,
Gracing the umbrage of some Naiad's fount.

Then thought I, too, of thee, most sweet of all
The spirit race that come at poet's call,
Delicate Ariel! who, in brighter hours,
Lived on the perfume of these honied bowers,
In velvet buds, at evening, loved to lie,
And win with music every rose's sigh.
Though weak the magic of my humble strain
To charm your spirit from its orb again,
Yet, oh, for her, beneath whose smile I sing,
For her (whose pencil, if your rainbow wing
Were dimmed or ruffled by a wintry sky.
Could smooth its feather and relume its dye.)
Descend a moment from your starry sphere,
And, if the lime-tree grove that once was dear,
The sunny wave, the bower, the breezy hill,
The sparkling grotto can delight you still,
Oh cull their choicest tints, their softest light,
Weave all these spells into one dream of night,
And, while the lovely artist slumbering lies,
Shed the warm picture o'er her mental eyes;
Take for the task her own creative spells,
And brightly show what song but faintly tells.

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