Felicia Dorothea Hemans

(25 September 1793 – 16 May 1835 / Liverpool, England)

The Isle Of Founts


Son of the stranger! wouldst thou take
O'er yon blue hills thy lonely way,
To reach the still and shining lake
Along whose banks the west-winds play?
-Let no vain dreams thy heart beguile,
Oh! seek thou not the Fountain-Isle!

Lull but the mighty serpent king,
'Midst the grey rocks, his old domain;
Ward but the cougar's deadly spring,
-Thy step that lake's green shore may gain;
And the bright Isle, when all is pass'd,
Shall vainly meet thine eye at last!

Yes! there, with all its rainbow streams,
Clear as within thine arrow's flight,
The Isle of Founts, the Isle of dreams,
Floats on the wave in golden light;
And lovely will the shadows be
Of groves whose fruit is not for thee!

And breathings from their sunny flowers,
Which are not of the things that die,
And singing voices from their bowers
Shall greet thee in the purple sky;
Soft voices, e'en like those that dwell
Far in the green reed's hollow cell.

Or hast thou heard the sounds that rise
From the deep chambers of the earth?
The wild and wondrous melodies
To which the ancient rocks gave birth?
-Like that sweet song of hidden caves
Shall swell those wood-notes o'er the waves.

The emerald waves!-they take their hue
And image from that sunbright shore;
But wouldst thou launch thy light canoe,
And wouldst thou ply thy rapid oar,
Before thee, hadst thou morning's speed,
The dreamy land should still recede!

Yet on the breeze thou still wouldst hear
The music of its flowering shades,
And ever should the sound be near
Of founts that ripple through its glades;
The sound, and sight, and flashing ray
Of joyous waters in their play!

But woe for him who sees them burst
With their bright spray-showers to the lake!
Earth has no spring to quench the thirst
That semblance in his soul shall wake,
For ever pouring through his dreams,
The gush of those untasted streams!

Bright, bright in many a rocky urn,
The waters of our deserts lie,
Yet at their source his lip shall burn,
Parch'd with the fever's agony!
From the blue mountains to the main,
Our thousand floods may roll in vain.

E'en thus our hunters came of yore
Back from their long and weary quest;
-Had they not seen th' untrodden shore,
And could they 'midst our wilds find rest?
The lightning of their glance was fled,
They dwelt amongst us as the dead!

They lay beside our glittering rills,
With visions in their darken'd eye,
Their joy was not amidst the hills,
Where elk and deer before us fly;
Their spears upon the cedar hung,
Their javelins to the wind were flung.

They bent no more the forest-bow,
They arm'd not with the warrior-band,
The moons wan'd o'er them dim and slow-
-They left us for the spirit's land!
Beneath our pines yon greensward heap
Shows where the restless found their sleep.

Son of the stranger! if at eve
Silence be 'midst us in thy place,
Yet go not where the mighty leave
The strength of battle and of chase!
Let no vain dreams thy heart beguile,
Oh! seek thou not the Fountain-Isle!

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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