Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
Song of the Tonga-Islanders
COME to Licoö! the sun is riding
Down hills of gold to his coral bowers;
Come where the wood-pigeon’s moan is chiding
The song of the wind, while we gather flowers.
Let us plait the garland, and weave the chi,        5
While the wild waves dance on our iron strand;
To-morrow these waves may wash our graves,
And the moon look down on a ruined land.
Let us light the torches, and dip our hair
In the fragrant oil of the sandal-tree;        10
Strike the bonjoo, and the oola share,
Ere the death-gods hear our jubilee.
Who are they that in floating towers
Come with their skins of curdled snows?
They shall see our maidens dress our bowers,        15
While the hooni shines on their sunny brows.
Who shall mourn when red with slaughter,
Finow sits on the funeral stone?
Who shall weep for his dying daughter?
Who shall answer the red chief’s moan?        20
He shall cry unheard by the funeral stone,
He shall sink unseen by the split canoe,
Though the plantain-bird be his alone,
And the thundering gods of Fanfonnoo.
Let us not think ’tis but an hour        25
Ere the wreath shall drop from the warrior’s waist;
Let us not think ’tis but an hour
We have on our perfumed mats to waste.
Shall we not banquet, though Tonga’s king
To-morrow may hurl the battle-spear?        30
Let us whirl our torches, and tread the ring,—
He only shall find our foot-prints here.
We will dive,—and the turtle’s track shall guide
Our way to the cave where Hoonga dwells,
Where under the tide he hides his bride,        35
And lives by the light of its starry shells.
Come to Licoö! in yellow skies
The sun shines bright, and the wild waves play;
To-morrow for us may never rise;—
Come to Licoö, to-day, to-day.        40

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