Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Oceanica
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Oceanica: Vol. XXXI.  1876–79.
Miscellaneous: Pacific Ocean
South Sea Islands
John Wilson (1720–1789)
(From The Isle of Palms)

OH, many are the beauteous isles
Unknown to human eye,
That, sleeping mid the Ocean smiles,
In happy silence lie.
The ship may pass them in the night,        5
Nor the sailors know what a lovely sight
Is resting on the main,—
Some wandering ship who hath lost her way
And never, or by night or day,
Shall pass these isles again.        10
There, groves that bloom in endless spring
Are rustling to the radiant wing
Of birds, in various plumage, bright
As rainbow-hues or dawning light.
Soft-falling showers of blossoms fair        15
Float ever on the fragrant air,
Like showers of vernal snow,
And from the fruit-tree, spreading tall,
The richly ripened clusters fall
Oft as sea-breezes blow.        20
The sun and clouds alone possess
The joy of all that loveliness;
And sweetly to each other smile
The live-long day,—sun, cloud, and isle.
How silent lies each sheltered bay!        25
No other visitors have they
To their shores of silvery sand,
Than the waves that, murmuring in their glee,
All hurrying in a joyful band
Come dancing from the sea.        30
  How did I love to sigh and weep
For those that sailed upon the deep,
When, yet a wondering child,
I sat alone at dead of night,
Hanging all breathless with delight        35
O’er their adventures wild!
Trembling I heard of dizzy shrouds,
Where up among the raving clouds
The sailor-boy must go;
Thunder and lightning o’er his head!        40
And should he fall—oh thought of dread!
Waves mountain-high below.
How leapt my heart with wildering fears,
Glazing on savage islanders
Ranged fierce in long canoe,        45
Their poisoned spears, their war-attire,
And plumes twined bright, like wreaths of fire,
Round brows of dusky hue!
What tears would fill my wakeful eyes
When some delicious paradise        50
(As if a cloud had rolled
On a sudden from the bursting sun),
Freshening the Ocean where it shone,
Flung wide its groves of gold!
No more the pining mariner        55
In wild delirium raves,
For like an angel, kind and fair,
That smiles and smiling saves,
The glory charms away distress,
Serene in silent loveliness        60
Amid the dash of waves.

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