THE EDEN OF THE SEA.
Inscribed to the Rev. B. Bailey, Senior Chaplain of Ceylon.
A dream! a dream! Our billowy home
Before me, as so late, so long,
The Ocean, with its sparkling foam;
The Ocean, with its varying song:—
Our ship at rest, where late she rode,
Furled every sail though fair the breeze,
And narrow walks and small abode
Exchanged for roaming, land, and ease.
Short sojourn make we, yet how sweet
The change, the unaccustomed air
Of all we see, and hear, and meet—
Ceylon, thy wooded shores are fair!
I love the land left far behind,
Its glorious oaks, and streamlets clear,
Yet wherefore should mine eye be blind,
My heart be cold to beauty here?—
No, in a world as childhood new,
Is it not well to be a child?—
As quick to ask, as quick to view,
As promptly pleased, perchance as wild?
Deride who will as childish wit,
My scorn to-day of graver things;
Let them be proud, but let me sit
Enamoured of a beetle's wings.
Books for to-morrow: this calm shade
(Yet mind and learning know the spot)
Suggests to me the primal hour
When goodness was, and sin was not;
When the wild tenants of the wood
Came trustingly at Adam's call,
Nor he nor they athirst for blood,
The world one Paradise for all.
I know that creatures strange and fierce
Here lurk, and here make men afraid;
But let the daring hunter pierce
Their hidden lairs—in this bright shade,
Let me forget save what I greet,
The air alive with glancing wings;
Tame creatures pecking near my seat;
Resplendent flowers, and happy things.
The squirrel at his morning meal,
And morning sport—so lithe and free,
No shadow o'er the grass may steal
With lighter, quicker steps than he,
Racing along the cocoa leaf
You see him through its ribs of green;
Anon, the little mime and thief
Expanded on the trunk is seen.
These cocoa-trees—not fair in woods,
But singly seen and seen afar,
When sunset pours his yellow floods,
A column, and its crown a star!
Yet, dowered with wealth of uses rare,
Whene'er its plumy branches wave,
Some sorrow seems to haunt the air;
Some vision of a desert grave!
Ceylon! Ceylon! 'tis nought to me
How thou wert known or named of old,
As Ophir, or Taprobane,
By Hebrew king, or Grecian bold:—
To me, thy spicy-wooded vales,
Thy dusky sons, and jewels bright,
But image forth the far-famed tales—
But seem a new Arabian Night.
And when engirdled figures crave,
Heed to thy bosom's dazzling store—
I see Aladdin in his cave;
I follow Sinbad on the shore.
Yet these, the least of all thy wealth,
Thou heiress of the eastern isles!
Thy mountains boast of northern health;
And Europe amid Asia smiles.
Were India not where I must wend,
And England where I would return,
To thee my steps would soonest tend;
Ev'n now, I feel my spirit yearn;
Not as the stranger of a day,
Who soon forgets where late he dwelt,
But like a friend, who, far away,
Feels ever what at first he felt.