Collected Poems of Henry Derozio: Preface by Manu Samriti Chander; Edited by Amardeep Singh

The New Atlantis: A Fragment

       How sweet 'twould be 
   To live upon some distant lonely isle 
   Where all is beautiful; to sit and watch 
   The stars as they come smiling up the sky; 
   And then to gaze upon the face we love. 
   And find the eyes there brighter than the stars! 

   Twas a green solitude; a fairy haunt, 
Set like an emerald in a golden sea 
Upon the vast Atlantic, and so like 
Those isles of which the poet only dreams, 
That he who once might visit the sweet spot 
Would deem kind nature in a joyous mood 
Had made it only for Romance and Love! 
'Twas happiness to muse along the shore. 
And hear the evening hymn which the soft winds 
Sang to the weary sun as home he came 
To the embraces of his ocean-bride 
And then to look upon the sea-born treasures 
Stolen by the playful wave from that blue world 
Where dwells the mermaid in her hyaline hall. 
Were pleasure which the youthful heart can feel. 
But never tell. The pink and azure shells 
Loft on the sunny shore of that fair island. 
Like a small tribute paid unto its beauty, 
Had something spell-like in them, which could wake 
Fancies, and thoughts as lovely as themselves. — 
To mark the moonbeams cradled by the waves 
Which clasped that isle ; to feel the midnight breeze 
Playing around a honeysuckle bower, 
And leaving, as it gently died away, 
A legacy of sweetness, were to be 
Partaker in the bliss enthusiasts paint. 

   Here — (a fit dwelling place for two fond hearts 
That never needed more society, 
But clung unto each other, and remained 
Inseparable, like first love, and hope) 
Young Eric, and his own Rosina dwelt. 
Woes the world brings to all were not for them ; 
Pangs which the lightest heart has had to bear. 
Griefs which the gayest have been doomed to pass. 
They had not felt — their days had all been gilt 
With radiant sunshine , on their path of life 
Flowers of eternal freshness had been strewed 
By gentlest seraphs' hands ; and Hope had set 
Her rainbow in the sky ; it promised peace 
And happiness for ever — O! that Hope's 
Bright Ins were not made of ram and sunshine! 
When the sun sets, the lovely rainbow breaks. 
And nothing then remains, but tears which flow 
Like ram upon the heart! But oh! the rays 
Which made their arch of hope so beautiful 
Were all perpetual , they ne'er took wings — 
Herein they were unlike realities 

   Young Eric oft' had seen the midnight moon 
Walking unclouded through the azure sky, 
Like a Sultana with her handmaid stars 
Well pleased to gather round her, he had felt 
The magic influence of such soft hour 
Binding his soul as with a "clankless chain," 
And leading it a captive unto joy! 
Oft when the skylark from his watch-tower high 
Would send his sweet notes trembling to the earth 
As heralds of approaching day, had Eric woke 
To drink the freshness of the fragrant morn. 
And see the golden floods of orient light 
Rushing, like water from a fountain pure. 
To gladden all things that it shone upon. — 
He loved red roses, jasmines, and all flowers 
Which make the soul soft, musical, and sweet 
As an Aeolian harp But these with all their power 
Could never wake that flame within his breast, 
Which while it burns, gives light unto the heart. 
And life to light, and happiness to life ; 
But when extinguished, dark is all within. 
And the crushed of heart lies ruined, fallen, and low! 

   Love, woman, stars and flowers! O! are not ye 
The gifts which spirits in a pitying mood 
Vouchsafed to man? Is not your power, enchantment? 
Yes! ye were given for happiness; and we 
When we would know what meaneth bliss, must turn 
To gaze on you, and find it there, extracting 
Like the bee, honey from the lotus red, 
The sweets of Poesy divine from you. 

O he was young! — Can minstrel's lay unfold 
What ‘tis to love in youth, to weep, to pine, 
To answer sigh for sigh, and tear for tear '> 

Alas' the harp hath not a tone, and the fond bard 
Essays in vain to weave a gentle verse 
That might declare the history of Love — 
Oh! who can tell how strangely in that dream 
The quick pulse beats, and danceth with delight, 
And how the tongue hath not the power to say 
With what the brain is burning — how the lip 
Will lose Its freshness, and the eye now brighten 
Like a warm sunbeam, and anon be dimmed 
With a fond tear to be kissed off again — 
These are themselves so eloquent, 'twere vain 
If minstrel spake for them to those who know 
All that It is to feel hopes, fears, and griefs 
Fluttering, like little birds, within the breast 
Where they have nestled. He had watched her eyes 
Until his own wept o'er their loveliness — 
For there's a melancholy mood of mind 
Which corneth when there is excess of joy 
Within the breast, and waketh holy tears, — 
Drops which o'erflow when the heart's cup is full!
His bosom was a temple; he had placed 
Within that sanctuary all he loved, 
Her image, name, and every word she spake — 
These became deities to him , and then 
His heart was their devoted worshipper 
   Come listen, and I'll tell thee Love ! who made 
This isle a heaven; and as I heard the tale 
I'll weave it into verse; for woman's ear 
Should know no sounds but such as minstrelsy 
Awakes to greet her. — Let me tell thee now 
How, on a summer's eve when heaven looked gay 
Clad in her loveliest vestment, and the clouds 
Did chase each other down the southern slope 
Of the great dome that canopies the earth. 
This gentle pair upon the smooth green sward 
Breathed vows of hallowed love, and whispered words 
Melodious as the poet Nightingale's 
Sad fall of music when he woos the rose! — 

   He held her to his heart , one hand was laid 
Upon her neck, the other grasped her hand — 
'Twas white, and delicate as a soft beam 
Of the young moon up6n a calm clear night, 
'Twas made for touchtng flowers, and to be kissed. 
Her eye was heavenly blue, and spake of love • 
Oh! I can liken it to nothing, for 
I've never seen, or heard, or dreamed of aught 
To which I might compare it. Her dark hair 
Hanging in glossy ringlets down her neck, 
Would have been wove into a net of love 
If she had been the inmate of a palace. 
A coronal of flowers was round her head. 
Circling her fair brow like a fragrant halo 
Flowers are fit ornaments for lovely woman ; 
They're like herself, fair, beautiful, and soft. 
When fondly cherished — withered when forsaken ! — 
Rosina's voice ! — To hear it were to taste 
Of bliss like that which Eastern legends tell 
The Arab Prophet's paradise bestows. 
O! why doth woman string the harp and lute? 
There is more dulcet music on her lips 
Than all the power of art could ever wake. 
Beneath her lattice let her lover's strains 
Float on the gale which bears them up to her 
As if It pitied all his pain , then she 
Should but reply with her melodious voice, 
Whose sweetness puts all minstrelsy to shame. — 
Rosina was a young enthusiast 
Life without Love would seem unto her thoughts 
Like to a rosebud robbed of all its fragrance; 
But love being as the vital air she breathed, 
It was the element in which she lived! — 
The heart of woman loves to cling; and oft 
When after vain endeavour it hath sought 
For something gentle, it will twine around 
The hard and cold — but ah! few flowers will bloom 
Upon the flinty rock; — they're delicate, 
And need much kinder cherishing. But she 
The girl whose history my lay declares 
Was loved again, even she loved , their hearts 
Were like two mirrors, and each saw itself 
Imaged upon the other! 
           This is bliss! 
Oh! this is happiness which glides on dreams, 
That come upon the wings of night to glad 
The gifted minstrel's eyes. — why do such thoughts 
Like birds of paradise, flit through the heaven 
Where poets love to gaze; why do they fling 
Such dazzling brightness o'er the path they take. 
Like a high angel's flight through azure space 
Unto the star which he hath made his home? 
I look upon the picture which I've drawn. 
And then in mood of mind less wild, I turn 
In calmer hour, to gaze upon this world 
Of cold reality, and ah! I find 
This is not life!  

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