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

Various Islands: Madeira


By William Lisle Bowles (1762–1850)

(From The Spirit of Discovery by Sea)

THE FAVORING gales invite; the bowsprit bears

Right onward to the fearful shade; more black

The cloudy spectre towers; already fear

Shrinks at the view aghast and breathless. Hark!

’T was more than the deep murmur of the surge

That struck the ear; whilst through the lurid gloom

Gigantic phantoms seem to lift in air

Their misty arms; yet, yet,—bear boldly on,—

The mist dissolves; seen through the parting haze,

Romantic rocks, like the depictured clouds,

Shine out; beneath, a blooming wilderness

Of varied wood is spread, that scents the air;

Where fruits of “golden rind,” thick interspersed

And pendent, through the mantling umbrage gleam

Inviting. Cypress here, and stateliest pine,

Spire o’er the nether shades, as emulous

Of sole distinction where all nature smiles.

Some trees, in sunny glades alone their head

And graceful stem uplifting, mark below

The turf with shadow; whilst in rich festoons

The flowery lianes braid their boughs; meantime

Choirs of innumerous birds of liveliest song

And brightest plumage, flitting through the shades,

With nimble glance are seen; they, unalarmed,

Now near in airy circles sing, then speed

Their random flight back to their sheltering bowers,

Whose silence, broken only by their song,

From the foundation of this busy world,

Perhaps had never echoed to the voice,

Or heard the steps of Man. What rapture fired

The strangers’ bosoms, as from glade to glade

They passed, admiring all, and gazing still

With new delight! ’T is solitude around;

Deep solitude, that on the gloom of woods

Primeval fearful hangs: a green recess

Now opens in the wilderness; gay flowers

Of unknown name purple the yielding sward;

The ring-dove murmurs o’er their head, like one

Attesting tenderest joy; but mark the trees,

Where, slanting through the gloom, the sunshine rests!

Beneath, a moss-grown monument appears,

O’er which the green banana gently waves

Its long leaf; and an aged cypress near

Leans, as if listening to the streamlet’s sound

That gushes from the adverse bank; but pause,—

Approach with reverence! Maker of the world,

There is a Christian’s cross! and on the stone

A name, yet legible amid its moss,—