Thomas Love Peacock

(1785 - 1866 / England)

The Magic Bark


I

O freedom! power of life and light!
Sole nurse of truth and glory!
Bright dweller on the rocky cliff!
Lone wanderer on the sea!
Where'er the sunbeam slumbers bright
On snow-clad mountains hoary;
Wherever flies the veering skiff,
O'er waves that breathe of thee!
Be thou the guide of all my thoughtÑ
The source of all my beingÑ
The genius of my waking mind---
The spirit of my dreams!
To me thy magic spell be taught,
The captive spirit freeing,
To wander with the ocean-wind
Where'er thy beacon beams.


II.

O! sweet it were, in magic bark,
On one loved breast reclining,
To sail around the varied world,
To every blooming shore;
And oft the gathering storm to mark
Its lurid folds combining;
And safely ride, with sails unfurled,
Amid the tempest's roar;
And see the mighty breakers rave
On cliff, and sand, and shingle,
And hear, with long re-echoing shock,
The caverned steeps reply;
And while the storm-cloud and the wave
In darkness seemed to mingle,
To skim beside the surf-swept rock,
And glide uninjured by.


III.

And when the summer seas were calm,
And summer skies were smiling,
And evening came, with clouds of gold,
To gild the western wave;
And gentle airs and dews of balm,
The pensive mind beguiling,
Should call the Ocean Swain to fold
His sea-flocks in the cave,
Unearthly music's tenderest spell,
With gentlest breezes blending
And waters softly rippling near
The prow's light course along,
Should flow from Triton's winding shell,
Through ocean's depths ascending
From where it charmed the Nereid's ear,
Her coral bowers among.


IV.

How sweet, where eastern Nature smiles,
With swift and mazy motion
Before the odour-breathing breeze
Of dewy morn to glide;
Or, 'mid the thousand emerald isles
That gem the southern ocean,
Where fruits and flowers, from loveliest trees,
O'erhang the slumbering tide:
Or up some western stream to sail,
To where its myriad fountains
Roll down their everlasting rills
From many a cloud-capped height,
Till mingling in some nameless vale,
'Mid forest-cinctured mountains,
The river-cataract shakes the hills
With vast and volumed might.


V.

The poison-trees their leaves should shed,
The yellow snake should perish,
The beasts of blood should crouch and cower,
Where'er that vessel past:
All plagues of fens and vapours bred,
That tropic fervors cherish,
Should fly before its healing power,
Like mists before the blast.
Where'er its keel the strand imprest,
The young fruit's ripening cluster,
The bird's free song, its touch should greet,
The opening flower's perfume;
The streams zalong the green earth's breast
Should roll in purer lustre,
And love should heighten every sweet,
And brighten every bloom.


VI.

And, Freedom! thy meridian blaze
Should chase the clouds that lower,
Wherever mental twilight dim
Obscures Truth's vestal flame,
Wherever Fraud and Slavery raise
The throne of blood-stained Power,
Wherever Fear and Ignorance hymn
Some fabled daemon's name!
The bard, where torrents thunder down
Beside thy burning altar,
Should kindle, as in days of old,
The mind's ethereal fire;
Ere yet beneath a tyrant's frown
The Muse's voice could falter,
Or Flattery strung with chords of gold
The minstrel's venal Iyre.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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