First Evening. Part 1 -

FIRST EVENING

" The sky is bright — the breeze is fair,
" And the mainsail flowing, full and free —
" Our farewell word is woman's prayer,
" And the hope before us — Liberty!
" Farewell, farewell.
" To Greece we give our shining blades,
" And our hearts to you. young Zean Maids!

" The moon is in the heavens above,
" And the wind is on the foaming sea —
" Thus shines the star of woman's love
" On the glorious strife of Liberty!
" Farewell, farewell.
" To Greece we give our shining blades,
" And our hearts to you, young Zean Maids! "

Thus sung they from the bark, that now
Turned to the sea its gallant prow,
Bearing within its hearts as brave,
As e'er sought Freedom o'er the wave;
And leaving on that islet's shore,
Where still the farewell beacons burn,
Friends that shall many a day look o'er
The long, dim sea for their return.
Virgin of Heaven! speed their way —
Oh, speed their way, — the chosen flower,
Of Zea's youth, the hope and stay
Of parents in their wintry hour,
The love of maidens and the pride
Of the young, happy, blushing bride,
Whose nuptial wreath has not yet died —
All, all are in that precious bark,
Which now, alas! no more is seen —
Tho' every eye still turns to mark
The moonlight spot where it had been.

Vainly you look, ye maidens, sires,
And mothers, your beloved are gone! —
Now may you quench those signal fires,
Whose light they long looked back upon
From their dark deck — watching the flame
As fast it faded from their view,
With thoughts, that, but for manly shame,
Had made them droop and weep like you.
Home to your chambers! home, and pray
For the bright coming of that day,
When, blest by heaven, the Cross shall sweep
The Crescent from the Ægean deep,
And your brave warriors, hastening back,
Will bring such glories in their track,
As shall, for many an age to come,
Shed light around their name and home.

There is a Fount on Zea's isle,
Round which, in soft luxuriance, smile
All the sweet flowers, of every kind,
On which the sun of Greece looks down,
Pleased as a lover on the crown
His mistress for her brow hath twined,
When he beholds each floweret there,
Himself had wishTher most to wear;
Here bloomed the laurel-rose, whose wreath
Hangs radiant round the Cypriot shines,
And here those bramble-flowers, that breathe
Their odor into Zante's wines: —
The splendid woodbine that, as eve,
To grace their floral diadems,
The lovely maids of Patmos weave: —
And that fair plant whose tangled stems
Shine like a Nereid's hair, when spread,
Dishevelled, o'er her azure bed: —
All these bright children of the clime,
(Each at its own most genial time,
The summer, or the year's sweet prime,)
Like beautiful earth-stars, adorn
The Valley where that Fount is born;
While round, to grace its cradle green,
Groups of Velani oaks are seen
Towering on every verdanTheight —
Tall, shadowy, in the evening light,
Like Genii set to watch the birth
Of some enchanted child of earth —
Fair oaks that over Zea's vales,
Stand with their leafy pride unfurled;
While Commerce from her thousand sails
Scatters their fruit throughout the world!

'T was here — as soon as prayer and sleep
(Those truest friends to all who weep)
Had lightened every heart. and made
Even sorrow wear a softer shade —
'T was here, in this secluded spot,
Amid whose breathings calm and sweet
Grief might be soothed if not forgot,
The Zean nymphs resolved to meet
Each evening now, by the same light
That saw their farewell tears that night:
And try if sound of lute and song,
If wandering mid the moonlight flowers
In various talk, could charm along
With lighter step, the lingering hours,
Till tidings of that Bark should come,
Or Victory waft their warriors home!

When first they met — the wonted smile
Of greeting having gleamed awhile —
'T would touch even Moslem heart to see
The sadness that came suddenly
O'er their young brows, when they looked round
Upon that bright, enchanted ground;
And thought how many a time with those
Who now were gone to the rude wars
They there had met at evening's close,
And danced till morn outshone the stars!

But seldom long doth hang the eclipse
Of sorrow o'er such youthful breasts —
The breath from her own blushing lips,
That on the maiden's mirror rests,
Not swifter, lighter from the glass,
Than sadness from her brow doth pass.

Soon did they now, as round the Well
They sat, beneath the rising moon —
And some with voice of awe would tell
Of midnight fays and nymphs who dwell
In holy founts — while some would tune
Their idle lutes that now had lain
For days without a single strain; —
And others, from the rest apart,
With laugh that told the lighteued heart,
Sat whispering in each other's ear
Secrets that all in turn would hear; —
Soon did they find this thoughtless play
So swiftly steal their griefs away,
That many a nymph tho' pleased the while,
Reproached her own forgetful smile,
And sighed to think she could be gay.
Among these maidens there was one
Who to Leucadia late had been —
Had stood beneath the evening sun
On its white towering cliffs and seen
The very spot where Sappho sung
Her swan-like music, ere she sprung
(Still holding, in that fearful leap,
By her loved lyre,) into the deep,
And dying quenched the fatal fire,
At once, of both her heart and lyre.

Mutely they listened all — and well
Did the young travelled maiden tell
Of the dread height to which that steep
Beetles above the eddying deep —
Of the lone sea-birds, wheeling round
The dizzy edge with mournful sound —
And of those scented lilies found
Still blooming on that fearful place —
As if called up by Love to grace
The immortal spot o'er which the last
Bright footsteps of his martyr past!

While fresh to every listener's thought
These legends of Leucadia brought
All that of Sappho's hapless flame
Is kept alive, still watcht by Fame —
The maiden, tuning her soft lute,
While all the rest stood round her, mute,
Thus sketched the languishment of soul,
That o'er the tender Lesbian stole;
And in a voice whose thrilling tone
Fancy might deem the Lesbian's own,
One of those fervid fragments gave,
Which still, — like sparkles of Greek Fire,
Undying, even beneath the wave, —
Burn on thro' Time and ne'er expire.
Rate this poem: 

Reviews

No reviews yet.