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The Spirit Of Discovery By Sea - Book The Fourth

William Lisle Bowles 1762 (King's Sutton) – 1850



Stand on the gleaming Pharos, and aloud
Shout, Commerce, to the kingdoms of the earth;
Shout, for thy golden portals are set wide,
And all thy streamers o'er the surge, aloft,
In pomp triumphant wave. The weary way
That pale Nearchus passed, from creek to creek
Advancing slow, no longer bounds the track
Of the adventurous mariner, who steers
Steady, with eye intent upon the stars,
To Elam's echoing port. Meantime, more high
Aspiring, o'er the Western main her towers
Th' imperial city lifts, the central mart
Of nations, and beneath the calm clear sky,
At distance from the palmy marge, displays
Her clustering columns, whitening to the morn.
Damascus' fleece, Golconda's gems, are there.
Murmurs the haven with one ceaseless hum;
The hurrying camel's bell, the driver's song,
Along the sands resound. Tyre, art thou fall'n?
A prouder city crowns the inland sea,
Raised by his hand who smote thee; as if thus
His mighty mind were swayed to recompense
The evil of his march through cities stormed,
And regions wet with blood! and still had flowed
The tide of commerce through the destined track,
Traced by his mind sagacious, who surveyed
The world he conquered with a sage's eye,
As with a soldier's spirit; but a scene
More awful opens: ancient world, adieu!
Adieu, cloud-piercing pillars, erst its bounds;
And thou, whose aged head once seemed to prop
The heavens, huge Atlas, sinking fast, adieu!
What though the seas with wilder fury rave,
Through their deserted realm; though the dread Cape,
Sole-frowning o'er the war of waves below,
That bar the seaman's search, horrid in air
Appear with giant amplitude; his head
Shrouded in clouds, the tempest at his feet,
And standing thus terrific, seem to say,
Incensed--Approach who dare! What though the fears
Of superstition people the vexed space
With spirits unblessed, that lamentations make
To the sad surge beyond--yet Enterprise,
Not now a darkling Cyclop on the sands
Striding, but led by Science, and advanced
To a more awful height, on the wide scene
Looks down commanding.
Does a shuddering thought
Of danger start, as the tumultuous sea
Tosses below! Calm Science, with a smile,
Displays the wondrous index, that still points,
With nice vibration tremulous, to the Pole.
And such, she whispers, is the just man's hope
In this tempestuous scene of human things;
Even as the constant needle to the North
Still points; so Piety and meek-eyed Faith
Direct, though trembling oft, their constant gaze
Heavenward, as to their lasting home, nor fear
The night, fast closing on their earthly way.
And guided by this index, thou shall pass
The world of seas secure. Far from all land,
Where not a sea-bird wanders; where nor star,
Nor moon appears, nor the bright noonday sun,
Safe in the wildering storm, as when the breeze
Of summer gently blows; through day, through night,
Where sink the well-known stars, and others rise
Slow from the South, the victor bark shall ride.
Henry! thy ardent mind first pierced the gloom
Of dark disastrous ignorance, that sat
Upon the Southern wave, like the deep cloud
That lowered upon the woody skirts, and veiled
From mortal search, with umbrage ominous,
Madeira's unknown isle. But look! the morn
Is kindled on the shadowy offing; streaks
Of clear cold light on Sagres' battlements
Are cast, where Henry watches, listening still
To the unwearied surge; and turning still
His anxious eyes to the horizon's bounds.
A sail appears; it swells, it shines: more high
Seen through the dusk it looms; and now the hull
Is black upon the surge, whilst she rolls on
Aloft--the weather-beaten ship--and now
Streams by the watch-tower!
Zarco, from the deep
What tidings?
The loud storm of night prevailed,
And swept our vessel from Bojador's rocks
Far out to sea; a sylvan isle received
Our sails; so willed the ALMIGHTY--He who speaks,
And all the waves are still!
Hail, HENRY cried,
The omen: we have burst the sole barrier,
(Prosper our wishes, Father of the world!)
We speed to Asia.
Soon upon the deep
The brave ship speeds again. Bojador's rocks
Arise at distance, frowning o'er the surf,
That boils for many a league without. Its course
The ship holds on; till lo! the beauteous isle,
That shielded late the sufferers from the storm,
Springs o'er the wave again. Here they refresh
Their wasted strength, and lift their vows to Heaven,
But Heaven denies their further search; for ah!
What fearful apparition, palled in clouds,
For ever sits upon the Western wave,
Like night, a
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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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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