Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DISCOVERY OF MADEIRA, by WILLIAM LISLE BOWLES



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DISCOVERY OF MADEIRA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: She left / the severn's side, and fled
Last Line: "speed we to asia!"
Subject(s): Madeira (Island)


SHE left
The Severn's side, and fled with him she loved
O'er the wide main; for he had told her tales
Of happiness in distant lands, where care
Comes not, and pointing to the golden clouds
That shone above the waves, when evening came,
Whisper'd, "Oh! are there not sweet scenes of peace,
Far from the murmurs of this cloudy mart,
Where gold alone bears sway, scenes of delight,
Where Love may lay his head upon the lap
Of Innocence, and smile at all the toil
Of the low-thoughted throng, that place in wealth
Their only bliss? Yes, there are scenes like these.
Leave the vain chidings of the world behind,
Country, and hollow friends, and fly with me
Where love and peace in distant vales invite.
What wouldst thou here? Oh shall thy beauteous look
Of maiden innocence, thy smile of youth, thine eyes
Of tenderness and soft subdued desire,
Thy form, thy limbs -- oh, madness! -- be the prey
Of a decrepit spoiler, and for gold? --
Perish his treasure with him! Haste with me,
We shall find out some sylvan nook, and then
If thou shouldst sometimes think upon these hills,
When they are distant far, and drop a tear,
Yes -- I will kiss it from thy cheek, and clasp
Thy angel beauties closer to my breast;
And while the winds blow o'er us, and the sun
Goes beautifully down, and thy soft cheek
Reclines on mine, I will enfold thee thus,
And proudly cry, My friend -- my love -- my wife!"
So tempted he, and soon her heart approved,
Nay woo'd, the blissful dream; and oft at eve,
When the moon shone upon the wandering stream,
She paced the castle's battlements, that threw
Beneath their solemn shadow, and resign'd
To fancy and to tears, thought it most sweet
To wander o'er the world with him she loved.
Nor was his birth ignoble, for he shone
Mid England's gallant youth in Edward's reign --
With countenance erect, and honest eye
Commanding, (yet suffused in tenderness
At times,) and smiles that like the lightning play'd
On his brown cheek, -- so nobly stern he stood, --
Accomplish'd, generous, gentle, brave, sincere,
Robert a Machin. But the sullen pride
Of haughty D'Arfet scorn'd all other claim
To his high heritage, save what the pomp
Of amplest wealth and loftier lineage gave.
Reckless of human tenderness, that seeks
One loved, one honour'd object, wealth alone
He worshipp'd; and for this he could consign
His only child, his aged hope, to loathed
Embraces, and a life of tears! Nor here
His hard ambition ended: for he sought
By secret whispers of conspiracies
His sovereign to abuse, bidding him lift
His arm avenging, and upon a youth
Of promise close the dark forgotten gates
Of living sepulture, and in the gloom
Inhume the slowly-wasting victim. --
So
He purposed, but in vain: the ardent youth
Rescued her -- her whom more than life he loved,
E'en when the horrid day of sacrifice
Drew nigh. He pointed to the distant bark,
And while he kiss'd a stealing tear that fell
On her pale cheek, as trusting she reclined
Her head upon his breast, with ardour cried,
"Be mine, be only mine; the hour invites;
Be mine, be only mine." So won, she cast
A look of last affection on the towers
Where she had pass'd her infant days, that now
Shone to the setting sun -- "I follow thee,"
Her faint voice said; and lo! where in the air
A sail hangs tremulous, and soon her steps
Ascend the vessel's side: The vessel glides
Down the smooth current, as the twilight fades,
Till soon the woods of Severn, and the spot
Where D'Arfet's solitary turrets rose,
Are lost -- a tear starts to her eye -- she thinks
Of him whose gray head to the earth shall bend,
When he speaks nothing: -- but be all, like death,
Forgotten. Gently blows the placid breeze,
And oh! that now some fairy pinnance light
Might flit along the wave, (by no seen power
Directed, save when Love, a blooming boy,
Gather'd or spread with tender hand the sail,)
That now some fairy pinnance, o'er the surge
Silent, as in a summer's dream, might waft
The passengers upon the conscious flood
To scenes of undisturbed joy.
But hark!
The wind is in the shrouds -- the cordage sings
With fitful violence -- the blast now swells,
Now sinks. Dread gloom invests the farther wave,
Whose foaming toss alone is seen, beneath
The veering bowsprit.
O retire to rest,
Maiden, whose tender heart would beat, whose cheek
Turn pale to see another thus exposed: --
Hark! the deep thunder louder peals -- Oh save --
The high mast crashes; but the faithful arm
Of love is o'er thee, and thy anxious eye,
Soon as the gray of morning peeps, shall view
Green Erin's hills aspiring!
The sad morn
Comes forth: but Terror on the sunless wave
Still, like a sea-fiend, sits, and darkly smiles
Beneath the flash that through the struggling clouds
Bursts frequent, half-revealing his scathed front,
Above the rocking of the waste that rolls
Boundless around: --
No word through the long day
She spoke: -- Another slowly came: -- No word
The beauteous drooping mourner spoke. The sun
Twelve times had sunk beneath the sullen surge,
And cheerless rose again: -- Ah, where are now
Thy havens, France? But yet -- resign not yet --
Ye lost sea-farers -- oh, resign not yet
All hope -- the storm is pass'd; the drenched sail
Shines in the passing beam! Look up, and say,
"Heaven, thou hast heard our prayers!"
And lo! scarce seen,
A distant dusky spot appears; -- they reach
An unknown shore, and green and flowery vales,
And azure hills, and silver-gushing streams,
Shine forth, a Paradise, which Heaven alone,
Who saw the silent anguish of despair,
Could raise in the waste wilderness of waves. --
They gain the haven -- through untrodden scenes,
Perhaps untrodden by the foot of man
Since first the earth arose, they wind: The voice
Of Nature hails them here with music, sweet,
As waving woods retired, or falling streams,
Can make; most soothing to the weary heart,
Doubly to those who, struggling with their fate,
And wearied long with watchings and with grief,
Sought but a place of safety. All things here
Whisper repose and peace; the very birds,
That mid the golden fruitage glance their plumes
The songsters of the lonely valley, sing
"Welcome from scenes of sorrow, live with us." --
The wild wood opens, and a shady glen
Appears, embower'd with mantling laurels high,
That sloping shade the flowery valley's side;
A lucid stream, with gentle murmur, strays
Beneath the umbrageous multitude of leaves,
Till gaining, with soft lapse, the nether plain,
It glances light along its yellow bed.
The shaggy inmates of the forest lick
The feet of their new guests, and gazing stand.-
A beauteous tree upshoots amid the glade
Its trembling top; and there upon the bank
They rest them, while the heart o'erflows with joy.
Now evening, breathing richer odours sweet,
Came down: a softer sound the circling seas,
The ancient woods resounded, while the dove,
Her murmurs interposing, tenderness
Awaked, yet more endearing, in the hearts
Of those who, sever'd far from human kind,
Woman and man, by vows sincere betrothed,
Heard but the voice of Nature. The still moon
Arose -- they saw it not -- cheek was to cheek
Inclined, and unawares a stealing tear
Witness'd how blissful was that hour, that seem'd
Not of the hours that time could count. A kiss
Stole on the listening silence; never yet
Here heard: they trembled, e'en as if the Power
That made the world, that planted the first pair
In Paradise, amid the garden walk'd, --
This since the fairest garden that the world
Has witness'd, by the fabling sons of Greece
Hesperian named, who feign'd the watchful guard
Of the scaled Dragon, and the Golden Fruit.
Such was this sylvan Paradise; and here
The loveliest pair, from a hard world remote,
Upon each other's neck reclined; their breath
Alone was heard, when the dove ceased on high
Her plaint; and tenderly their faithful arms
Enfolded each the other.
Thou, dim cloud,
That from the search of men, these beauteous vales
Hast closed, oh doubly veil them! But, alas,
How short the dream of human transport! Here,
In vain they built the leafy bower of love,
Or cull'd the sweetest flowers and fairest fruit.
The hours unheeded stole; but ah! not long --
Again the hollow tempest of the night
Sounds through the leaves; the inmost woods resound;
Slow comes the dawn, but neither ship nor sail
Along the rocking of the windy waste
Is seen: the dash of the dark-heaving wave
Alone is heard. Start from your bed of bliss,
Poor victims! never more shall ye behold
Your native vales again; and thou, sweet child!
Who, listening to the voice of love, has left
Thy friends, thy country, -- oh may the wan hue
Of pining memory, the sunk cheek, the eye
Where tenderness yet dwells, atone, (if love
Atonement need, by cruelty and wrong
Beset,) atone e'en now thy rash resolves.
Ah, fruitless hope! Day after day thy bloom
Fades, and the tender lustre of thy eye
Is dimm'd; thy form, amid creation, seems
The only drooping thing.
Thy look was soft,
And yet most animated, and thy step
Light as the roe's upon the mountains. Now,
Thou sittest hopeless, pale, beneath the tree
That fann'd its joyous leaves above thy head,
Where love had deck'd the blooming bower, and strew'd
The sweets of summer: Death is on thy cheek,
And thy chill hand the pressure scarce returns
Of him, who, agonized and hopeless, hangs
With tears and trembling o'er thee. Spare the sight, --
She faints -- she dies! --
He laid her in the earth,
Himself scarce living, and upon her tomb,
Beneath the beauteous tree where they reclined,
Placed the last tribute of his earthly love. . . .
He placed the rude inscription on her stone,
Which he with faltering hands had graved, and soon
Himself beside it sunk -- yet ere he died,
Faintly he spoke; "If ever ye shall hear,
Companions of my few and evil days,
Again the convent's vesper bells, O think
Of me! and if in after-times the search
Of men should reach this far-removed spot,
Let sad remembrance raise an humble shrine,
And virgin choirs chant duly o'er our grave --
Peace, peace." His arm upon the mournful stone
He dropp'd -- his eyes, ere yet in death they closed,
Turn'd to the name till he could see no more --
"ANNA." His pale survivors, earth to earth,
Weeping consign'd his poor remains, and placed
Beneath the sod where all he loved was laid: --
Then shaping a rude vessel from the woods,
They sought their country o'er the waves, and left
The scenes again to deepest solitude.
The beauteous Ponciana hung its head
O'er the gray stone; but never human eye
Had mark'd the spot, or gazed upon the grave
Of the unfortunate, but for the voice
Of Enterprise, that spoke, from Sagre's tower,
"Through ocean's perils, storms, and unknown wastes,
Speed we to Asia!"





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