Charles Harpur

Here you will find the Long Poem Description of a Tropical Island of poet Charles Harpur

Description of a Tropical Island

Behold an Indian isle, reposed 
Upon the deep?s enamoured breast, 
Even like a royal bride, be-rosed 
With passion in her happy rest. 
Or, when the morn is there disclosed, 
Or eve is robing in the west, 
The deep, as by that isle embossed 
With central gauds of sumless cost, 
And else outspread in circuit?wide 
And round as heaven from side to side? 
Might figure to a fancy bold 
A wide vast shield of fretted gold, 
Dropped by some conquer?d elder god, 
When on his track, where?er he trod, 
Jove?s chasing thunders rolled. 
Or in the broad noon domed with heaven, 
A world-wide temple?s marble floor 
It seemeth, with one alter graven 
From the rude mass of things terrene, 
By Time inspired with Eden lore;? 
An isle-like alter, sculptured o?er 
With craggy hills and valleys green, 
And heaping forests hung between: 
By Time, with an old love enthralled, 
Wrought thus in living emerald;? 
And after nature?s earliest style 
Is shaped that wondrous Indian isle. 
Or circling out beneath the moon, 
Or sowed with all the stars of night, 
And by the lamp-like planets strewn 
With long and flame-like tracks of light, 
Might seem it to a watcher fond, 
Grey Time?s broad seal of diamond, 
Enchased by nature, memory-taught, 
With one most rich and rare device, 
A haunting isolated thought 
Of her sin-ruined Paradise. 

A summer island! There the trees, 
Of glorious forms, unseen elsewhere, 
Hang forth in golden congeries 
Their fruit through all the purple year; 
And flowers of every sunset hue, 
And peerless plants of stateliest stem, 
Fresh-showered each morn with honey-dew, 
Voluptuously impave and gem 
The pillary aisles of primal groves 
That skirt the sunny sea-board coves, 
Or hang in their umbrageous crowds 
From coasting slopes like verdant clouds: 
While from the craggy midland hills, 
Out of their gelid springs, the rills 
Leap, as exulting to be free, 
And thence in their bright liberty 
Through glades and cultured valleys vast, 
And many a wide pasture lea, 
Come murmurously winding, fast 
And flashing to the sea. 

There, too, what birds on plain and mountain, 
The fairest creatures of the earth, 
The deepest dipt in beauty?s fountain, 
(The summer?s loveliest birth), 
Flock round, and vividly unfold 
Their fulgent wings of feathery gold; 
Bedropt with gem-like lustres, which 
All interbeaming in their flight 
Break, as they pass, into a rich 
Flame-vision on the sight. 
Thus fly they, and with splendours rare 
Emblaze the warm and genial air. 

Such is the summer wealth and worth 
Of that bright isle I?d picture forth: 
Nor wants it fields that well afford 
The yellow grain and mellow gourd; 
With many a cultivated plain 
Prolific of the luscious cane 
And mealy root: for all things there 
Are bounteous in their kind, and fair 
And genial; all but the bad mind 
Of recreant man! And this hath made 
Its very beauty seem designed 
To deepen Evil?s deadly shade, 
And given its repute to be 
Borne far abroad by every wind 
That wafts a white sail o?er the sea, 
Even like the savour, damp with doom, 
Of some o?ergorged though costly tomb. 
O learn how, like a Upas-tree, 
(Not fabled) his dread cruelty 
Can make a scene that else might tell 
Of Paradise, a type of hell!