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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/671

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CANTO IV.]
631
THE ISLAND.

VII.

Forth from her bosom the young savage drew
A pine torch, strongly girded with gnatoo;
A plantain-leaf o'er all, the more to keep
Its latent sparkle from the sapping deep.140
This mantle kept it dry; then from a nook
Of the same plantain-leaf a flint she took,
A few shrunk withered twigs, and from the blade
Of Torquil's knife struck fire, and thus arrayed
The grot with torchlight. Wide it was and high,
And showed a self-born Gothic canopy;
The arch upreared by Nature's architect,
The architrave some Earthquake might erect;
The buttress from some mountain's bosom hurled,
When the Poles crashed, and water was the world;150
Or hardened from some earth-absorbing fire,
While yet the globe reeked from its funeral pyre;
The fretted pinnacle, the aisle, the nave,[1]
Were there, all scooped by Darkness from her cave.
There, with a little tinge of phantasy,
Fantastic faces moped and mowed on high,
And then a mitre or a shrine would fix
The eye upon its seeming crucifix.
Thus Nature played with the stalactites,[2]
And built herself a Chapel of the Seas.160


  1. This may seem too minute for the general outline (in Mariner's Account) from which it is taken. But few men have travelled without seeing something of the kind—on land, that is. Without adverting to Ellora, in Mungo Park's last journal, he mentions having met with a rock or mountain so exactly resembling a Gothic cathedral, that only minute inspection could convince him that it was a work of nature.

    [Ellora, a village in the Nizám's dominions, is thirteen miles northwest of Aurangábád. "It is famous for its rock-caves and temples. The chief building, called the kailás, ... is a great monolithic temple, isolated from surrounding rock, and carved outside as well as in.... It is said to have been built about the eighth century by Rájá Edu of Ellichpur."—Hunter's Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1885, iv. 348-351. The passage in Mungo Park's Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa, 1815, p. 75, runs thus: "June 24th [1805].—Left Sullo, and travelled through a country beautiful beyond imagination, with all the possible diversities of rock, sometimes towering up like ruined castles, spires, pyramids, etc. We passed one place so like a ruined Gothic abbey, that we halted a little, before we could satisfy ourselves that the niches, windows, etc., were all natural rock."]

  2. [Byron's quadrisyllable was, probably, a poetic licence. There is,