Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Oceanica
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Oceanica: Vol. XXXI.  1876–79.
 
Appendix: New Zealand
New Zealand Scenery
Alfred Domett (1811–1887)
 
(From Ranolf and Amohia)

IT was a wondrous realm beguiled
Our youth amid its charms to roam;
O’er scenes more fair, serenely wild,
Not often summer’s glory smiled;
When flecks of cloud, transparent, bright—        5
No alabaster half so white—
Hung lightly in a luminous dome
Of sapphire—seemed to float and sleep
Far in the front of its blue steep;
And almost awful, none the less        10
For its liquescent loveliness,
Behind them sunk—just o’er the hill—
The deep abyss, profound and still,
The so immediate Infinite,
That yet emerged, the same, it seemed        15
In hue divine and melting balm,
In many a lake whose crystal calm
Uncrisped, unwrinkled, scarcely gleamed;
Where sky above and lake below
Would like one sphere of azure show,        20
Save for the circling belt alone,
The softly painted purple zone
Of mountains, bathed where nearer seen
In sunny tints of sober green,
With velvet dark of woods between,        25
All glossy glooms and shifting sheen;
While here and there some peak of snow
Would o’er their tenderer violet lean.
 
And yet within this region, fair
With wealth of waving woods,—these glades        30
And glens and lustre-smitten shades,
Where trees of tropic beauty rare
With graceful spread and ample swell
Uprose,—and that strange asphodel
On tufts of stiff green bayonet-blades,        35
Great bunches of white bloom upbore,
Like blocks of sea-washed madrepore,
That steeped the noon in fragrance wide,
Till, by the exceeding sweet opprest,
The stately tree-fern leaned aside        40
For languor, with its starry crown
Of radiating fretted fans,
And proudly springing beauteous crest
Of shoots all brown with glistening down,
Curved like the lyre-bird’s tail half spread,        45
Or necks opposed of wrangling swans,
Red bill to bill, black breast to breast,—
Ay! in this realm of seeming rest,
What sights you met and sounds of dread!
Calcareous caldrons, deep and large        50
With geysers hissing to their marge;
Sulphureous fumes that spout and blow;
Columns and cones of boiling snow;
And sable lazy-bubbling pools
Of sputtering mud that never cools;        55
With jets of steam through narrow vents
Uproaring, maddening to the sky,
Like cannon-mouths that shoot on high,
In unremitting loud discharge,
Their inexhaustible contents;        60
While oft beneath the trembling ground
Rumbles a drear persistent sound
Like ponderous engines infinite, working
At some tremendous task below!
Such are the signs and symptoms—lurking        65
Or launching forth in dread display—
Of hidden fires, internal strife,
Amid that leafy, lush array
Of rank luxuriant verdurous life:
Glad haunts above where blissful love        70
Might revel, rove, enraptured dwell;
But through them pierce such tokens fierce
Of rage beneath and frenzies fell;
As if, to quench and stifle it,
Green Paradise were flung o’er Hell,—        75
Flung fresh with all her bowers close-knit,
Her dewy vales and dimpled streams;
Yet could not so its fury quell
But that the old red realm accurst
Would still recalcitrate, rebel,        80
Still struggle upward and outburst
In scalding fumes, sulphureous steams.
It struck you as you paused to trace
The sunny scenery’s strange extremes,
As if in some divinest face,        85
All heavenly smiles, divinest grace,
Your eye at times discerned, despite
Sweet looks with innocence elate,
Some wan, wild spasm of blank affright,
Or demon scowl of pent-up hate;        90
Or some convulsive writhe confest,
For all that bloom of beauty bright,
An anguish not to be represt.
You look,—a moment bask in, bless,
Its laughing light of happiness;        95
But look again,—what startling throes
And fiery pangs of fierce distress
The lovely lineaments disclose,—
How o’er the fascinating features flit
The genuine passions of the nether pit!        100
 
 
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