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Yes—from the sepulchre we'll gather flowers,
Then feast like spirits in their promised bowers,
Then plunge and revel in the rolling surf,
Then lay our limbs along the tender torf,
And, wet and shining from the sportive toil,
Anoint our bodies with the fragant oil,
And plait our garlands gathered from the grave,
And wear the wreaths that sprung from out the brave.
But lo! night comes, the Mooa wooes us back.
Then we are introduced to Torquil, a young Scotch islander, one of the matineers, and the swarthy beauty whose charms have drawn him to Otaheite, and for whom he has renounced all the allurements and advantages of the civilized world. The description of La belle Sauvage is very beautiful :
There sat the gentle savage of the wild,
In growth a woman, though in years a child,
As childhood dates within our colder clime,
Where nought is ripened rapidly save crime ;
The infant of an infant world, as pure
From Nature--lovely, warm, and premature;
Dusky like Night, but Night with all her stars,
Or cavern sparkling with its native spars ;
With eyes that were a language and a spell,
A form like Aphrodite's in her shell !
With all her loves around her on the deep,
Voluptuous as the first approach of sleep;
Yet full of life for through her tropic cheek
The blush would makes its way, and all but speak ;
The sun-born blood suffused her neck, and threw
O’er her clear nut-brown skin a lucid hue,
Like coral reddening through the darkened wave,
Which draws the diver to the crimson cave.
Such was this daughter of the Southern Seas,
Herself a billow in her energies,
To bear the bark of others' happiness,
Nor feel a sorrow till their joy grew less :
Her wild and warm, yet faithful, bosom knew
No joy like what it gave; her hopes ne'er drow
Aught from experience, that chill touchstone, whose
Sad proof reduces all things from their hues :
She feared no ill, because she knew it not,
Or what she knew was soon—too soon-forgot :
Her siniles and tears had passed, as light winds pass
O'er lakes, to ruffle, not destroy, their glass,
Whose depths unsearched, and fountains from the hill,
Restore their surface, in itself so still,
Until the earthquake tear the Naiad's cave,
Root up the spring, and trample on the wave,
And crush the living waters to a mass, ,
The amphibious desert of the dank morass!
And must their fate be hers? The eternal change
But grasps humanity with quicker range;
And they who fall but fall as worlds will fall,
To rise, if just,'a spirit o'er them all. The passion of the young lovers-that passion which Lord Byron always described so well and so powerfully—is told with exquisite delicacy :
The love which maketh all things fond and fair-
The youth which makes one rainbow of the air-
The dangers past, that make even man enjoy
The pause in which he ceases to destroy-
The mutual beauty, which the sternest feel
Strike to their hearts like lightning to the steel-
United the half savage and the whole,
The maid and boy, in one absorbing soul.
No more the thundering memory of the fight
Wrapped his weaned bosom in its dark delight;
No more the irksome restlessness of Rest
Disturbed him like the eagle in her nest,
Whose wetted beak and far-pervading eye
Darts for a victim over all the sky;
His heart was tamed to that voluptuous state,
At once Elysian and effeminate,
Which leaves no laurels o'er the hero's urn.
Rapt in the fond forgetfulness of life,
Neuha, the South-Sea girl, was all a wife,
With no distracting world to call her off
From love; with no society to scoff
At the new transient flame; no babbling crowd
Of coxcombry in admiration loud,
Or with adulterous whisper to alloy
Her duty, and her glory, and her joy;
With faith and feelings naked as her form,
She stood as stands a rainbow in a storm,
Changing its hues with bright variety,
But still expanding lovelier o'er the sky,
Howe'er its arch may swell, its colours move,
The cloud-compelling harbinger of Love.
Here, in this grolto of the wave-worn shore,
They passed the Tropic's red meridian o'er;
Nor long the hours—they never paused o’er time,
Unbroken by the clock's funereal chime,
Which deals the daily pittance of our span,
And points and mocks with iron laugh at man.
What deemed they of the future or the past ?
The present, like a tyrant, held them fast:
Their hour-glass was the sea-sand, and the tide,
Like her smooth billow, saw their moments glide;
Their clock the sun, in his unbounded tower ;
They reckoned not, whose day was but an hour;
The nightingale, their only vesper bell,
Sung sweetly to the rose the day's farewell;
The broad sun set, but not with lingering sweep,
As in the North he mellows o'er the deep,
But fiery, full and fierce, as if he left
The world for ever, earth of light bereft,
Plunged with red forehead down along the wave,
As dives a hero headlong to his grave.
Then rose they, looking first along the skies,
And then for light into each other's eyes,
Wondering that summer showed so brief a sun,
And asking if indeed the day were done? The voluptuous indolence of the lovers is interrupted by the boarse sound of a seaman's voice. This is Ben Bunting, one of the mountaineers, who comes to seek Torquil, to impart to himn the ill news
that a ship has been seen in the offing. After a short apostrophe to tobacco, of which, after investigating its varied shapes, Lord Byron prefers its naked beauties—a cigar,' the figure of this sailor is described, and has given a subject to the very spirited engraving which is inserted here :
Our sailor's jacket, though in ragged trim,
His constant pipe, which never yet burned dim,
His foremast air, and somewhat rolling gait,
Like his dear vessel, spoke his former state;
But then a sort of kerchief round his head,
Not over tightly bound, nor nicely spread ;
And stead of trowsers (ah ! too early torn!
For even the mildest woods will have their thorn)
A curious sort of somewhat scanty mat
Now served for inexpressibles and hat;
His naked feet and neck, and sun-burnt face,
Perchance might suit alike with either race.
His arms were all his own, our Europe's growth,
Which two worlds bless for civilizing both;
The musket swung behind his shoulders broad,
And somewhat stooped by his marine abode,
But brawny as the boar's; and hung beneath,
His cutlass drooped, unconscious of a sheath,
Or lost or worn away; his pistols were
Linked to his belt, a matrimonial pair-
(Let not this metaphor appear a scoff,
Though one missed fire, the other would go off)
These, with a bayonet, not so free from rust
As when the arm-chest held its brighter trust,
Completed his accoutrements, as Night
Surveyed him in his garb heteroclite. Torquil hears his news with dismay, not because he fears the fate which he may have to endure, but because it brings with it the decessity of being separated from his loved and loving Neuha.
The resistance which Christian and his comrades make against the pursuing crew of the ship is short and vain: the few who are not either killed or taken retreat to a rock, where they stand thus :
Stern, and aloof a little from the rest,
Stood Christian, with his arms across his chest.
The ruddy, reckless, dauntless hue once spread
Along his cheek was livid now as lead;
His light brown locks so graceful in their flow
Now rose like startled vipers o'er his brow.
Still as a statue, with his lips comprest
To stifle even the breath within his breast,
Fast by the rock, all menacing but mute,
He stood; and, save a slight beat of his foot,
Which deepened now and then the sandy dint
Beneath his heel, his form seemed turned to flint.
Some paces further Torquil leaned his head
Against a bank, and spoke not, but he bled, -
Not mortally-his worst wound was within :
His brow was pale, his blue eyes sunken in,
And blood-drops sprinkled o'er his yellow hair
Showed that his faintness came not from despair,
But nature's ebb. Beside him was another,
Rough as a bear, but willing as a brother, -
Ben Bunting, who essayed to wash, and wipe,
And bind his wound—then calmly lit his pipe,
A trophy which survived a hundred fights,
A beacon which had cheered ten thousand nighis. Still the noise of the pursuit nears, and at this moment two canoes appear. Neuha is with them : she places Torquil in one; Christian, with the other survivors, enters the other; and they row away with the utmost rapidity, followed by the ship's boats. For the purpose of diverting the pursuers, the two canoes take separate courses. Neolia rows to a large rock, where to land was impossible and where the hope of escape seemed to be cut off. While Torquil is beginning to despair, Neuha plunges into the water, and bids him follow her :
They rested on their paddles, and uprose
Neuha, and, pointing to the approaching foes,
Cried, ' Torquil, follow me, and fearless follow !'
Then plunged at once into the ocean's hokow.
There was no time to pause-the foes were near-
Chains in his eye and menace in his ear;
With vigour they pulled on, and, as they came,
Hailed him to yield, and by his forfeit name.