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The Palm-Tree

Felicia Dorothea Hemans 1793 (Liverpool, Lancashire) – 1835 (Dublin, County Dublin)

It wav'd not thro' an Eastern sky,
Beside a fount of Araby;
It was not fann'd by southern breeze
In some green isle of Indian seas,
Nor did its graceful shadow sleep
O'er stream of Afric, lone and deep.

But fair the exil'd Palm-tree grew
Midst foliage of no kindred hue;
Thro' the laburnum's dropping gold
Rose the light shaft of orient mould,
And Europe's violets, faintly sweet,
Purpled the moss-beds at its feet.

Strange look'd it there!–the willow stream'd
Where silvery waters near it gleam'd;
The lime-bough lured the honey-bee
To murmur by the Desert's Tree,
And showers of snowy roses made
A lustre in its fan-like shade.

There came an eve of festal hours–
Rich music fill'd that garden's bowers:
Lamps, that from flowering branches hung,
On sparks of dew soft colour flung,
And bright forms glanc'd–a fairy show–
Under the blossoms to and fro.

But one, a lone one, midst the throng,
Seem'd reckless all of dance or song:
He was a youth of dusky mien,
Whereon the Indian sun had been,
Of crested brow, and long black hair–
A stranger, like the Palm-tree, there.

And slowly, sadly, mov'd his plumes,
Glittering athwart the leafy glooms:
He pass'd the pale green olives by,
Nor won the chestnut flowers his eye;
But when to that sole Palm he came,
Then shot a rapture through his frame!

To him, to him its rustling spoke,
The silence of his soul it broke!
It whisper'd of his own bright isle,
That lit the ocean with a smile;
Aye, to his ear that native tone
Had something of the sea-wave's moan!

His mother's cabin home, that lay
Where feathery cocoas fring'd the bay;
The dashing of his brethren's oar,
The conch-note heard along the shore;–
All thro' his wakening bosom swept:
He clasp'd his country's Tree and wept!

Oh! scorn him not!–the strength, whereby
The patriot girds himself to die,
Th' unconquerable power, which fills
The freeman battling on his hills,–
These have one fountain deep and clear–
The same whence gush'd that child-like tear!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Felicia Dorothea Hemans

Felicia Dorothea Hemans was an English poet. Two of her opening lines, "The boy stood on the burning deck" and "The stately homes of England", have acquired classic status. more…

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