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How yonder headland the rude billows lash !
Yet on its crest there stands a friendly mark,
A sign that is a hope to many a bark
Which midst this yeast and yawn of surges dash!
Its shoot of light, like lightning's arrow, flies
Through haze, or, as the sunset's crimson glance,
On all the multitudinous vapour lies !
The sea-boy wakes from panic's freezing trance,-
The hoary mariner far higher lifts his eyes!
Thou rayest out a Star! Solemn Watch-Fire !
Thou burnest there the beacon of each night, Quenchless in thy recess as Delphic pyre,
As Parsee's naphtha-altar ever bright !
Calmly thou seest the elemental fight !
Revolving many-hued, thou dost remind
Us of experience gleaming on our track
With Pleiad beam, oft broke by wave and wind,
Refracted on the tempest's scathe and rack !
Still fitter emblem ! Faint this ocean strife Depicts the troubled sea of human breast,
Where raves a vortex gulphing treasures rife,Far, far, from reach of help and port of rest,
LIGHTS OF THE WORLD, Hold forth the word of life!
STANZAS WRITTEN ON RETURNING FROM
IONA, THE SEAT OF ST. COLUMBA.
It is hardly necessary to remark, that the name of this venerable Isle is derived
from the Hebrew correlate, 73T, to the Latin Columba, a dove, the name which the saint assumed. The Arkite allusion of the legend is very beautiful, as the Tutelary fled hither from persecution, here preserved the remains of religion; and hence disseminated, by his Missionaries, the benefits of knowledge and faith to the surrounding nations.
SEE I then Thy wave-beaten shore, lone Isle,
Whose vision oft hath mingled with my dreams,
When all fair, holy, forms around me smile,-
When with the types of beauty fancy teems,
And Earth a pictured allegory seems?
Barren thy soil and bleak thy iron shore,–
Where nature seldom blooms and sun scarce gleams ;
Thy ruins mock the elemental war !
And, uttermost of isles, thou brav'st the Atlantic's roar !
The tide of ages rushes through my heart !
I live in olden time upon Thy coast, -
The veils of history, dissolving, part
As I perforce allow thy hallowed boast !
Here lived, and greatly bled, the martyr-host ! (1.)
Here the chaste choirs of pious virgins sung ! (2)
Here holy hermits were in heaven engrossed !(3)
Science her torch on this wild region flung,
And to Jehovah's shrine the contrite sinner clung!
How oft along Thy cliffs was heard the toll
From yonder Tower, (4.) with its sad, soothing, note.
To cheer the parting, waft the passing, soul,-
That, like sweet music, it upborne may float !
But hark! a dirge-like summons now hath smote
Upon the wind! A solemn bark draws near,
With drooping oar and ensign! Kingly coat
And diadem surmount that hearsed bier !
And murdered DUNCAN seeks anointed burial here ! (5.)
And often, too, upon this sterile strand
Has nobly stood the armament of Truth !
Sure God had touched each heart of all that band ! (6.)
The grey-haired sage, the soul-enkindled youth,
With dint of courage and with tear of ruth,-
Great was the Company ! (7.) To and fro they ran,
The sorrows of the barbarous horde to soothe;
To win to love and law the roving clan ;
And bend o'er all the earth the Covenant Rainbow's span !
Amidst this shattered roof, this crumbled wall,
What anthem-peal, with Sursum Corda, woke,
When prayer and song rung out high festival,
And music, in its sweetest surges, broke-
Bathing the soul beneath each rippling stroke !
When Requiem, Eleison, Sanctus-bells,
Did thousand gushing griefs and joys evoke,
Thrilling the farthest of these haunted cells
Where still, the last responsive votaress, Echo, dwells !
Thine is not Staffa's columned Sanctuary,
Isle for its dome, its pavement of the waves !
That magic architecture of the sea,
Which yet, as in fresh-hewn perfection, braves
The tempest strife which endless round it raves !
Yet what the Hope and Peace it ever taught
With all the truth that nature there engraves ?
But Mercy's altar here the wretched sought,
And long-tossed, shipwrecked, souls, here moored in Quiet's
Hail to Thine awful Ruins, and farewell !
Their sacred bounds I ne'er shall trace again :
Long since has vibrated thy funeral knell,
Prolonged by tremulous crag and mourning main !
Thy desolation prints no guilty stain
As when strongholds of rapine are o'erthrown:
The tears we weep for thee, we do not feign:
Thy memory lives ! though centuries have flown,
And thousand trophied piles have sunk of brass and stone !
For in the Day of final ire and doom,
When every island shall have fled away,
From many a yawning grave and bursting tomb
Shall not a glorious army deck this clay?
And having made the Saviour all their stay,
And led the Pagan savage to His feet,
Shall they not shine as stars of brightest ray ? (9.)
Shall they not near His right hand find a seat ?
And a Columba his loved convert-children greet ?
What though, in scene so dark and age so past,
Deformed was Truth, and desecrated Rite ?
What though into the Shrine was rising fast
The Idol, Sense, which ever doth incite
Vain Passion's ardour, Superstition's blight?
Their hearts a heavenly Charity subdued !
It swelled the onset of their holy fight !
Intrepid, melting, every power embued !
All triumph they abjured but in the Bleeding Rood !
Nor shall I lose Thine impress, wondrous Spot !
Howe'er my pilgrim feet may stray afar:
Nor shall thy lustre fade, whate'er the lot
Haply thy renovation shall debar,-
Of faith the Pharos long, of man the Star !
Nor call it fickle chance or cruel fate,
The Olive blooms which not a Flood could mar !
Rest thee, Blest Ark ! for new-born ages date
From thy subsiding, and new worlds thy Dove await !
(1.) The Bay of Martyrs is still shown to the stranger.
(2.) The Nunnery of St. Oran.
(3) The Cell of Monks.
(4.) The Cathedral.
(5.) “ Rosse._Where is Duncan's body ?
Macduff... Carried to Colmes-Kill;
The sacred storehouse of his predecessors,
And guardian of their bones." -Macbeth. (6.) 1 Sam. X. 26. (7.) Psa. Ixviii. 11. (8.) “ Ad portum quietis et aram misericordiæ tandem, Luci, venisti.”—
Apuleius. (9.) Dan. xii. 3.