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How pleasant were the songs of Toobonai,
When summer's sun went down the coral bay!
Come, let us to the islet's softest shade,
And hear the warbling birds! the damsels said:
The wood-dove from the forest depth shall coo,
Like voices of the gods from Bolotoo;
We'll cull the flowers that grow above the dead,
For these most bloom where rests the warrior's head;
And we will sit in twilight's face, and see
The sweet moon glancing through the tooa tree, ΙΟ
The lofty accents of whose sighing bough
Shall sadly please us as we lean below;
Or climb the steep, and view the surf in vain
Wrestle with rocky giants o'er the main,
Which spurn in columns back the baffled spray.
How beautiful are these! how happy they,
Who, from the toil and tumult of their lives,
Steal to look down where nought but Ocean strives!
Even he too loves at times the blue lagoon,
And smoothes his ruffled mane beneath the moon. 20
* The first three sections are taken from an actual song of the Tonga Islanders, of which a prose translation is given in MARINER'S Account of the Tonga Islands. Toobonai is not however one of them; but was one of those where Christian and the mutineers took refuge. I have altered and added, but have retained as much as possible of the original.
Yes-from the sepulchre we'll gather flowers,
Then feast like spirits in their promised bowers,
Then plunge and revel in the rolling surf,
Then lay our limbs along the tender turf,
And, wet and shining from the sportive toil,
Anoint our bodies with the fragrant oil,
And plait our garlands gather'd from the grave,
And wear the wreaths that sprung from out the brave.
But lo! night comes, the Mopa wooes us, back,
The sound of mats is heard along our track;
Anon the torchlight-dance shall fling its sheen
In flashing mazes o'er the Marly's green;
And we too will be there; we too recal
The memory bright with many a festival,
Ere Fiji blew the shell of war, when foes
For the first time were wafted in canoes.
Alas! for them the flower of mankind bleeds;
Alas! for them our fields are rank with weeds :
Forgotten is the rapture, or unknown,
Of wandering with the moon and love alone,
But be it so they taught us how to wield
The club, and rain our arrows o'er the field;
Now let them reap the harvest of their art!
But feast to night! to-morrow we depart.
Strike up the dance, the cava bowl fill high,
Drain every drop!-to-morrow we may die.
In summer garments be our limbs array'd;
Around our waists the Tappa's white display'd;
Thick wreaths shall form our Coronal, like Spring's,
And round our necks shall glance the Hooni strings;
So shall their brighter hues contrast the glow
Of the dusk bosoms that beat high below.
But now the dance is o'er-yet stay awhile;
Ah, pause! nor yet put out the social smile.
To-morrow for the Mooa we depart,
But not to night-to-night is for the heart.
Again bestow the wreaths we gently woo,
Ye young enchantresses of gay Licoo!
How lovely are your forms! how every sense
Bows to your beauties, soften'd, but intense,
Like to the flowers on Mataloco's steep,
Which fling their fragrance far athwart the deep :
We too will see Licoo; but-oh! my heart-
What do I say? to-morrow we depart.
Thus rose a song-the harmony of times
Before the winds blew Europe o'er these climes.
True, they had vices-such are Nature's growth-
But only the Barbarian's-we have both :
The sordor of civilization, mix'd
With all the savage which man's fall hath fix'd.
Who hath not seen Dissimulation's reign,
The prayers of Abel link'd to deeds of Cain?
Who such would see, may from his lattice view
The Old World more degraded than the New,
Now new no more, save where Columbia rears
Twin giants, born by Freedom to her spheres,
Where Chimborazo, over air, earth, wave,
Glares with his Titan eye, and sees no slave.
Such was this ditty of Tradition's days,
Which to the dead a lingering fame conveys
In song, where Fame as yet hath left no sign
Beyond the sound, whose charm is half divine;
Which leaves no record to the sceptic eye,
But yields young History all to harmony;
A boy Achilles, with the Centaur's lyre
In hand, to teach him to surpass his sire.
For one long-cherish'd ballad's simple stave,
Rung from the rock, or mingled with the wave,
Or from the bubbling streamlet's grassy side,
Or gathering mountain echoes as they glide,
Hath greater power o'er each true heart and ear,
Than all the columns Conquest's minions rear;
Invites, when Hieroglyphics are a theme
For sages' labours or the student's dream;
Attracts, when History's volumes are a toil,-
The first, the freshest bud of Feeling's soil.
Such was this rude rhyme-rhyme is of the rude—
But such inspired the Norseman's solitude,
Who came and conquer'd; such, wherever rise
Lands which no foes destroy or civilize,
Exist and what can our accomplish'd art
Of verse do more than reach the awaken'd heart?
And sweetly now those untaught melodies
Broke the luxurious silence of the skies,
The sweet siesta of a summer day,
The tropic afternoon of Toobonai,
When every flower was bloom, and air was balm, And the first breath began to stir the palm,
The first yet voiceless wind to urge
All gently to refresh the thirsty cave,
Where sat the songstress with the stranger boy,
Who taught her passion's desolating joy,
Too powerful over every heart, but most
O'er those who know not how it may be lost;
O'er those who, burning in the new-born fire,
Like martyrs revel in their funeral pyre,
With such devotion to their ecstasy,
That life knows no such rapture as to die :
And die they do; for earthly life has nought
Match'd with that burst of nature, even in thought;
And all our dreams of better life above
But close in one eternal gush of love.
There sate the gentle savage of the wild,
In growth a woman, though in years a child,
As childhood dates within our colder clime,
Where nought is ripen'd rapidly save crime;
The infant of an infant world, as pure.
From Nature-lovely, warm, and premature;
Dusky like Night, but Night with all her stars,
Or cavern sparkling with its native spars;
With eyes that were a language and a spell,
A form like Aphrodite's in her shell;
With all her loves around her on the deep,
Voluptuous as the first approach of sleep;
Yet full of life-for through her tropic cheek
The blush would make its way, and all but speak;
The sun-born blood suffused her neck, and threw
O'er her clear nut-brown skin a lucid hue,
Like coral reddening through the darken'd wave,
Which draws the diver to the crimson cave.
Such was this daughter of the Southern Seas,
Herself a billow in her energies,