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

Miscellaneous: Pacific Ocean

South Sea Islands

By John Wilson (1720–1789)

(From The Isle of Palms)

OH, many are the beauteous isles

Unknown to human eye,

That, sleeping mid the Ocean smiles,

In happy silence lie.

The ship may pass them in the night,

Nor the sailors know what a lovely sight

Is resting on the main,—

Some wandering ship who hath lost her way

And never, or by night or day,

Shall pass these isles again.

There, groves that bloom in endless spring

Are rustling to the radiant wing

Of birds, in various plumage, bright

As rainbow-hues or dawning light.

Soft-falling showers of blossoms fair

Float ever on the fragrant air,

Like showers of vernal snow,

And from the fruit-tree, spreading tall,

The richly ripened clusters fall

Oft as sea-breezes blow.

The sun and clouds alone possess

The joy of all that loveliness;

And sweetly to each other smile

The live-long day,—sun, cloud, and isle.

How silent lies each sheltered bay!

No other visitors have they

To their shores of silvery sand,

Than the waves that, murmuring in their glee,

All hurrying in a joyful band

Come dancing from the sea.

How did I love to sigh and weep

For those that sailed upon the deep,

When, yet a wondering child,

I sat alone at dead of night,

Hanging all breathless with delight

O’er their adventures wild!

Trembling I heard of dizzy shrouds,

Where up among the raving clouds

The sailor-boy must go;

Thunder and lightning o’er his head!

And should he fall—oh thought of dread!

Waves mountain-high below.

How leapt my heart with wildering fears,

Glazing on savage islanders

Ranged fierce in long canoe,

Their poisoned spears, their war-attire,

And plumes twined bright, like wreaths of fire,

Round brows of dusky hue!

What tears would fill my wakeful eyes

When some delicious paradise

(As if a cloud had rolled

On a sudden from the bursting sun),

Freshening the Ocean where it shone,

Flung wide its groves of gold!

No more the pining mariner

In wild delirium raves,

For like an angel, kind and fair,

That smiles and smiling saves,

The glory charms away distress,

Serene in silent loveliness

Amid the dash of waves.