Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 8/Dawn in an eastern jungle


Amid the forest glades we went
Before the break of day;
Pale Dian from the firmament
Shot down a trembling ray.
And, as we upwards turned and gazed,
The clustering constellations blazed,
Like blossomed thorns in May!

A lovely land, a lonely land!
Nor house nor home was nigh:
Deep forest glooms on either hand;
Above, the open sky;
The turf beneath was green and soft,
As is a daisied English croft,
Where children love to lie.

The fireflies lit their magic lamps
That wreathe the boughs in flame,
And, glittering ’mid the dewy damps,
Alternate went and came;
Each tree ’mid tiny cressets shone,
Fruited as if with diamond-stone,
Or gems of rarest fame!

No tramp of elephants was heard
Emerging from the brake;
No water-bird the lotus stirred
Above the sleeping lake:
So slumbrous all, no sound there was,
Save that the insects on the grass
Trilled songs to keep awake!

The polestar gleamed, our guide afar,
A rare and radiant gem!
Recalling oft the orient star
That shone o’er Bethlehem,
When angel minstrels carolling
Proclaimed the advent of The King,
And shepherds listened them!

Anon, fleet Fancy winged her flight
To transatlantic plains,
Where, guided by the polestar’s light,
The slave forsakes his chains,
And northward speeds with ’bated breath,
Through trackless wilds, for life or death,
To realms where freedom reigns!

O, hark! the song of chanticleer
Bursts from the leafy dells:
And, faint at first, then sharp and near,
The chime of cattle-bells!
The curling smoke uprose again:
The terraced slopes of ripened grain
Lay midst the sylvan swells.

How fair the scene! fields green and gold
Hedged in with ridgy rims:
Aloft, the tall trees, staunch and old,
Outspread their massy limbs:
The wakeful birds were all astir,
And each ethereal chorister
Was chanting matin hymns!

A flush was in the east—a hue
Of rose athwart the gray,
With slender bands of paly blue,
A soft, commingled ray!
Behind the brake the sun upsprung,
And fast his golden censer swung
Aloft—and it was day!

T. Steele.