Poems, now first collected/Jamaica
I know an island which the sun
Stays in his course to shine upon,
As if it were for this green isle
Alone he kept his fondest smile.
Long his rays delaying flood
Its remotest solitude,
Mountain, dell, and palmy wood,
And the coral sands around
That hear the blue sea's chiming sound.
It is a watered island, one
The upland rains pour down upon.
Oft the westward-floating cloud
To some purple crest is bowed,
While the tangled vapors seek
To escape from peak and peak,
Yield themselves, and break, or glide
Through deep forests undescried,
Mourning their lost pathway wide.
In this land of woods and streams
Ceaseless Summer paints her dreams:
White, bewildered torrents fall,
Dazzled by her morning beams,
With an outcry musical
From the ridges, plainward all;
Mists of pearl, arising there,
Mark their courses in the air,
Sunlit, magically fair.
Here the pilgrim may behold
How the bended cocoa waves
When at eve and morn a breeze
Blows to and from the Carib seas,
How the lush banana leaves
From their braided trunk unfold;
How the mango wears its gold,
And the sceptred aloe's bloom
Glorifies it for the tomb.
When the day has ended quite,
Splendor fills the drooping skies;
All is beauty, naught is night.
Then the Crosses twain arise,
Southward far, above the deep,
And the moon their light outvies.
Hark! the wakened lute and song
That to this fond clime belong,—
All is music, naught is sleep.
Isle of plenty, isle of love!
In the low, encircling plain
Laboring Afric, loaded wain,
Bearing sweets and spices, move;
On the happy heights above
Love his seat has chosen well,
Dreamful ease and silence dwell,
Life is all entranced, and time
Passes like a tinkling rhyme.
Ah, on those cool heights to dwell
Yielded to the island's spell!
There from some low-whispering mouth
To learn the secret of the South,
Or to watch dark eyes that close
When their sleep the noondays bring,
(List, the palm leaves murmuring!)
And the wind that comes and goes
Smells of every flower that blows.
Or from ocean to descry
Green plantations sloping nigh,
Starry peaks, of beryl hewn,
Whose strong footholds hidden lie
Furlong deep beneath the sea!
Long the mariners wistfully
Landward gaze, and say aright,
"Under sun or under moon
Earth has no more beauteous sight!"