A Dream of Antiquity

I JUST had turned the classic page,
And traced that happy period over,
When blest alike were youth and age,
And love inspired the wisest sage,
And wisdom graced the tenderest lover.

Before I laid me down to sleep
Awhile I from the lattice gazed
Upon that still and moonlight deep,
With isles-like floating gardens raised,
For Ariel there his sports to keep;
While, gliding 'twixt their leafy shores
The lone night-fisher plied his oars.

I felt, — so strongly fancy's power
Came o'er me in that witching hour, —
As if the whole bright scenery there
Were lighted by a Grecian sky,
And I then breathed the blissful air
That late had thrilled to Sappho's sigh.

Thus, waking, dreamt I, — and when Sleep
Came o'er my sense, the dream went on;
Nor, through her curtain dim and deep,
Hath ever lovelier vision shone.
I thought that, all enrapt, I strayed
Through that serene, luxurious shade,
Where Epicurus taught the Loves
To polish virtue's native brightness, —
As pearls, we 're told, that fondling doves
Have played with, wear a smoother whiteness.
'T was one of those delicious nights
So common in the climes of Greece,
When day withdraws but half its lights,
And all is moonshine, balm, and peace.
And thou wert there, my own beloved,
And by thy side I fondly roved
Through many a temple's reverend gloom,
And many a bower's seductive bloom,
Where Beauty learned what Wisdom taught,
And sages sighed and lovers thought;
Where schoolmen conned no maxims stern,
But all was formed to soothe or move,
To make the dullest love to learn,
To make the coldest learn to love.
And now the fairy pathway seemed
To lead us through enchanted ground,
Where all that bard has ever dreamed
Of love or luxury bloomed around.
Oh! 't was a bright, bewildering scene —
Along the alley's deepening green
Soft lamps, that hung like burning flowers,
And scented and illumed the bowers,
Seemed, as to him, who darkling roves,
Amid the lone Hercynian groves,
Appear those countless birds of light,
That sparkle in the leaves at night,
And from their wings diffuse a ray
Along the traveller's weary way.

'T was light of that mysterious kind,
Through which the soul perchance may roam,
When it has left this world behind,
And gone to seek its heavenly home.
And, Nea, thou wert by my side,
Through all this heavenward path my guide.

But, lo, as wandering thus we ranged
That upward path, the vision changed;
And now, methought, we stole along
Through halls of more voluptuous glory
Than ever lived in Telan song,
Or wantoned in Milesian story.

And nymphs were there, whose very eyes
Seemed softened o'er with breath of sighs;
Whose every ringlet, as it wreathed,
A mute appeal to passion breathed.
Some flew, with amber cups, around,
Pouring the flowery wines of Crete;
And, as they passed with youthful bound,
The onyx shone beneath their feet.
While others, waving arms of snow
Entwined by snakes of burnished gold,
And showing charms, as loth to show,
Through many a thin, Tarentian fold,
Glided among the festal throng
Bearing rich urns of flowers along.

Where roses lay, in languor breathing,
And the young beegrape, round them wreathing,
Hung on their blushes warm and meek,
Like curls upon a rosy cheek.

Oh, Nea! why did morning break
The spell that thus divinely bound me?
Why did I wake? how could I wake
With thee my own and heaven around me!

Well — peace to thy heart, though another's it be,
And health to that cheek, though it bloom not for me!
To-morrow I sail for those cinnamon groves,
Where nightly the ghost of the Carribee roves,
And, far from the light of those eyes, I may yet
Their allurements forgive and their splendor forget.

Farewell to Bermuda, and long may the bloom
Of the lemon and myrtle its valleys perfume;
May spring to eternity hallow the shade,
Where Ariel has warbled and Waller has strayed.

And thou — when, at dawn, thou shalt happen to roam
Through the lime-covered alley that leads to thy home,
Where oft, when the dance and the revel were done,
And the stars were beginning to fade in the sun,
I have led thee along, and have told by the way
What my heart all the night had been burning to say —
Oh! think of the past — give a sigh to those times,
And a blessing for me to that alley of limes.

I F I were yonder wave, my dear,
And thou the isle it clasps around,
I would not let a foot come near
My land of bliss, my fairy ground.

I F I were yonder couch of gold,
And thou the pearl within it placed,
I would not let an eye behold
The sacred gem my arms embraced.

If I were yonder orange-tree,
And thou the blossom blooming there,
I would not yield a breath of thee
To scent the most imploring air.

Oh! bend not o'er the water's brink,
Give not the wave that odorous sigh,
Nor let its burning mirror drink
The soft reflection of thine eye.

That glossy hair, that glowing cheek,
So pictured in the waters seem,
That I could gladly plunge to seek
Thy image in the glassy stream.

Blest fate! at once my chilly grave
And nuptial bed that stream might be;
I 'll wed thee in its mimic wave,
And die upon the shade of thee.

Behold the leafy mangrove, bending
O'er the waters blue and bright,
Like Nea's silky lashes, lending
Shadow to her eyes of light.

Oh, my beloved! where'er I turn,
Some trace of thee enchants mine eyes:
In every star thy glances burn;
Thy blush on every floweret lies.

Nor find I in creation aught
Of bright or beautiful or rare,
Sweet to the sense of pure to thought,
But thou art found reflected there.
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