Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Air Voyage
By Grenville Mellen (1799–1841)
A Vision.

YE have heard of spirits that sail the air,
Like birds that float over the mountains bare—
Upborne with pinions of beauty on,
When the farewell light of day is gone,
And they gladly soar to the blue away,        5
As to catch the star’s young travelling ray
      Till the arch of night,
      Is tremblingly bright,
As if meteors shot on their upward flight.
Ye have heard of spirits that sail away        10
To realms that glitter with endless day—
Where the clouds scarce lift their giant forms
In their far, dim march to the land of storms;
Where the ocean of ether heaves around,
And silence and dew alone are found!        15
      Where life is still,
      By a boundless will,
As a sabbath around some echoless hill!
Methought I was borne through the measureless fields,
Where the silver moon and the comet wheels.        20
With a glorious thrilling of joy I went,
And a tide of life through my heart was sent,
As though a new fountain had burst control,
And bade its streams o’er my pulses roll;
      And a shallop frail,        25
      With a shadowy sail,
Hurried me on with the singing gale.
It went through my brain, this deep delight,
With a kindling sense of sound and sight;
And it seem’d, as I rose, that the far blue air        30
Caught a hue of glory more richly rare,
Than was ever reveal’d to earthly eyes—
The cold, cold lustre of uppermost skies!
      And still my bark went
      Through the firmament,        35
As a thing to the walls of the universe sent.
When the sun roll’d up from the burning sea,
Like a car of flame from immensity,
I felt his beams quiver along my frame,
When first o’er the clouds and stars they came;        40
And the light-dropping orbs I had slumber’d among,
Their dim, dewy eyes o’er creation hung.
      As each beautiful ray
      Sunk sadly away,
To the inner home of the high blue day!        45
Then I sailed far off to the thundering clouds,
That loomed on the air like spirits in shrouds,
My vessel, sunk on their fleecy pillow,
Seem’d a shadowy bark on a dreamy billow;
And I floated through seas of vision’d things,        50
Where the waking breezes point their wings,
      While far below,
      ’Mid the lightning’s glow,
I heard the dull sounds of the tempest go.
Then storm-clouds crossed my glowing track,        55
And launch’d me on through the hurrying rack,
Till a new creation seem’d to rise
In beauty all over the opening skies;
And the spirits that pass’d on the wings of night,
As they took their farewell feathery flight,        60
      Pour’d melody out
      Like the far-off shout
Of music that dies on its airy route!

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