Open main menu

Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/639

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
CANTO II.]
599
THE ISLAND.

The wood-dove from the forest depth shall coo,
Like voices of the Gods from Bolotoo;[1]
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[2] tree,10
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 smooths his ruffled mane beneath the Moon.20


II.

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,

    us this destructive art. Let us therefore enjoy the present time, for to-morrow perhaps, or the next day, we may die. We will dress our-selves with chi coola, and put bands of white táppa round our waists. We will plait thick wreaths of jiale for our heads, and prepare strings of hooni for our necks, that their whiteness may show off the colour of our skins. Mark how the uncultivated spectators are profuse of their applause! But now the dance is over: let us remain here to-night and feast and be cheerful, and to-morrow we will depart for the Mooa. How troublesome are the young men, begging for our wreaths of flowers! while they say in their flattery, 'See how charming these young girls look coming from Licoo!—how beautiful are their skins, diffusing around a fragrance like the flowering precipice of Mataloco:—Let us also visit Licoo. We will depart to-morrow.'"—An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands, etc., 1817, i. 307, 308. See, too, for another version, ed. 1827, vol. ii. Appendix, p. xl.]

  1. [Bolotoo is a visionary island to the north westward, the home of the Gods. The souls of chieftains, priests, and, possibly, the gentry, ascend to Bolotoo after death; but the souls of the lower classes "come to dust" with their bodies.—An Account, etc., 1817, ii. 104, 105.]
  2. [The toa, or drooping casuarina (C. equisetifolia). "Formerly the toa was regarded as sacred, and planted in groves round the 'Morais' of Tahiti."—Polynesia, by G. F. Angas, 1866, p. 44.]