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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/638

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[CANTO II.
THE ISLAND.

CANTO THE SECOND.

I.

How pleasant were the songs of Toobonai,[1]
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:
  1. 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.

    ["Whilst we were talking of Vaváoo tóoa Lico, the women said to us, 'Let us repair to the back of the island to contemplate the setting sun: there let us listen to the warbling of the birds, and the cooing of the wood-pigeon. We will gather flowers from the burying-place at Matáwto, and partake of refreshments prepared for us at Lico O'nĕ: we will then bathe in the sea, and rinse ourselves in the Váoo A'ca; we will anoint our skins in the sun with sweet-scented oil, and will plait in wreaths the flowers gathered at Matáwto.' And now as we stand motionless on the eminence over Anoo Mánoo, the whistling of the wind among the branches of the lofty toa shall fill us with a pleasing melancholy; or our minds shall be seized with astonishment as we behold the roaring surf below, endeavouring but in vain to tear away the firm rocks. Oh! how much happier shall we be thus employed, than when engaged in the troublesome and insipid cares of life!

    "Now as night comes on, we must return to the Moóa. But hark!—hear you not the sound of the mats?—they are practising a bo-oóla ['a kind of dance performed by torch-light'], to be performed to-night on the malái, at Tanéa. Let us also go there. How will that scene of rejoicing call to our minds the many festivals held there, before Vaváoo was torn to pieces by war! Alas! how destructive is war! Behold! how it has rendered the land productive of weeds, and opened untimely graves for departed heroes! Our chiefs can now no longer enjoy the sweet pleasure of wandering alone by moonlight in search of their mistresses. But let us banish sorrow from our hearts: since we are at war, we must think and act like the natives of Fiji, who first taught