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The Missionary - Canto First



Beneath aerial cliffs, and glittering snows,
The rush-roof of an aged warrior rose,
Chief of the mountain tribes: high overhead,
The Andes, wild and desolate, were spread,
Where cold Sierras shot their icy spires,
And Chillan trailed its smoke and smouldering fires.
A glen beneath, a lonely spot of rest,
Hung, scarce discovered, like an eagle's nest.
Summer was in its prime;--the parrot-flocks
Darkened the passing sunshine on the rocks;
The chrysomel and purple butterfly,
Amid the clear blue light, are wandering by;
The humming-bird, along the myrtle bowers,
With twinkling wing, is spinning o'er the flowers,
The woodpecker is heard with busy bill,
The mock-bird sings--and all beside is still,
And look! the cataract that bursts so high,
As not to mar the deep tranquillity,
The tumult of its dashing fall suspends,
And, stealing drop by drop, in mist descends;
Through whose illumined spray and sprinkling dews,
Shine to the adverse sun the broken rainbow hues.
Chequering, with partial shade, the beams of noon,
And arching the gray rock with wild festoon,
Here its gay net-work, and fantastic twine,
The purple cogul threads from pine to pine,
And oft, as the fresh airs of morning breathe,
Dips its long tendrils in the stream beneath.
There, through the trunks with moss and lichens white,
The sunshine darts its interrupted light,
And, 'mid the cedar's darksome boughs, illumes,
With instant touch, the Lori's scarlet plumes.
So smiles the scene;--but can its smiles impart
Aught to console yon mourning warrior's heart?
He heeds not now, when beautifully bright,
The humming-bird is circling in his sight;
Nor ev'n, above his head, when air is still,
Hears the green woodpecker's resounding bill;
But gazing on the rocks and mountains wild,
Rock after rock, in glittering masses piled
To the volcano's cone, that shoots so high
Gray smoke whose column stains the cloudless sky,
He cries, Oh! if thy spirit yet be fled
To the pale kingdoms of the shadowy dead,--
In yonder tract of purest light above,
Dear long-lost object of a father's love,
Dost thou abide; or like a shadow come,
Circling the scenes of thy remembered home,
And passing with the breeze, or, in the beam
Of evening, light the desert mountain stream!
Or at deep midnight are thine accents heard,
In the sad notes of that melodious bird,
Which, as we listen with mysterious dread,
Brings tidings from our friends and fathers dead?
Perhaps, beyond those summits, far away,
Thine eyes yet view the living light of day;
Sad, in the stranger's land, thou may'st sustain
A weary life of servitude and pain,
With wasted eye gaze on the orient beam,
And think of these white rocks and torrent stream,
Never to hear the summer cocoa wave,
Or weep upon thy father's distant grave.
Ye, who have waked, and listened with a tear,
When cries confused, and clangours rolled more near;
With murmured prayer, when Mercy stood aghast,
As War's black trump pealed its terrific blast,
And o'er the withered earth the armed giant passed!
Ye, who his track with terror have pursued,
When some delightful land, all blood-imbrued,
He swept; where silent is the champaign wide,
That echoed to the pipe of yester-tide,
Save, when far off, the moonlight hills prolong
The last deep echoes of his parting gong;
Nor aught is seen, in the deserted spot
Where trailed the smoke of many a peaceful cot,
Save livid corses that unburied lie,
And conflagrations, reeking to the sky;--
Come listen, whilst the causes I relate
That bowed the warrior to the storms of fate,
And left these smiling scenes forlorn and desolate.
In other days, when, in his manly pride,
Two children for a father's fondness vied,--
Oft they essayed, in mimic strife, to wield
His lance, or laughing peeped behind his shield;
Oft in the sun, or the magnolia's shade,
Lightsome of heart as gay of look they played,
Brother and sister. She, along the dew,
Blithe as the squirrel of the forest flew;
Blue rushes wreathed her head; her dark-brown hair
Fell, gently lifted, on her bosom bare;
Her necklace shone, of sparkling insects made,
That flit, like specks of fire, from sun to shade.
Light was her form; a clasp of silver braced
The azure-dyed ichella round her waist;
Her ancles rung with shells, as unconfined
She danced, and sung wild carols to the wind.
With snow-white teeth, and laughter in her eye,
So beautiful in youth she bounded by.
Yet kindness sat upon her aspect bland,--
The tame alpaca stood and licked her hand;
She brought him gathered moss, and l
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:56 min read
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William Lisle Bowles

William Lisle Bowles was an English poet and critic In 1783 he won the chancellors prize for Latin verse In 1789 he published in a small quarto volume Fourteen Sonnets which were received with extraordinary favour not only by the general public but by such men as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Wordsworth The Sonnets even in form were a revival a return to an older and purer poetic style and by their grace of expression melodious versification tender tone of feeling and vivid appreciation of the life and beauty of nature stood out in strong contrast to the elaborated commonplaces which at that time formed the bulk of English poetry more…

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