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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV. 1876–79.

Central and Southern Africa: Madagascar, the Island

Madagascar Song

By John Leyden (1775–1811)

BENEATH the shade of orange-trees,

Where streams with stilly murmurs run,

’T is sweet to breathe the fanning breeze,

And watch the broad descending sun;

While youths and maids, a jocund throng,

With measured tinkling steps appear,

And pour the sweet soul-lulling song,

That melts and lingers on the ear.

How softly wild the maiden’s lay

Whose pliant hand the rush-grass weaves!

But sweeter hers who drives away

The reed-birds from the ricen sheaves.

My soul is bathed in song;—the dance

Is sweeter than the maiden’s kiss,

As half-receding steps advance

To picture love’s enchanting bliss.

Soft fall your voices, breathing kind

The passion ne’er to be withstood,

As raptured gestures slowly wind,

To image pleasure’s melting mood.

The gales of evening breathe; the moon

Is glimmering through the leaves above:

Ah! cease, dear maids, the mellow tune,

And give the night to joy and love!