University of Virginia Library




From Mardi


We fish, we fish, we merrily swim,
We care not for friend nor for foe:
Our fins are stout,
Our tails are out,
As through the seas we go.
Fish, Fish, we are fish with red gills;
Naught disturbs us, our blood is at zero:
We are buoyant because of our bags,
Being many, each fish is a hero.
We care not what is it, this life
That we follow, this phantom unknown:
To swim, it's exceedingly pleasant,—
So swim away, making a foam.
This strange looking thing by our side,
Not for safety, around it we flee:—
Its shadow's so shady, that's all,—
We only swim under its lee.
And as for the eels there above,
And as for the fowls in the air,
We care not for them nor their ways,
As we cheerily glide afar!
We fish, we fish, we merrily swim,
We care not for friend nor for foe:
Our fins are stout,
Our tails are out,
As through the seas we go.



Thrice waved on high,
Our paddles fly:
Thrice round the head, thrice dropt to feet:
And then well timed,
Of one stout mind,
All fall, and back the waters heap!

Who lifts this chant?
Who sounds this vaunt?

The wild sea song, to the billows' throng,
Rising, falling,
Hoarsely calling,
Now high, now low, as fast we go,
Fast on our flying foe!

Who lifts this chant?
Who sounds this vaunt?


Dip, dip, in the brine our paddles dip,
Dip, dip, the fins of our swimming ship!
How the waters part,
As on we dart;
Our sharp prows fly,
And curl on high,
As the upright fin of the rushing shark,
Rushing fast and far on his flying mark!
Like him we prey;
Like him we slay;
Swim on the foe,
Our prow a blow!

Who lifts this chant?
Who sounds this vaunt?

Heap back; heap back; the waters back!
Pile them high astern, in billows black;
Till we leave our wake,
In the slope we make;
And rush and ride,
On the torrent's tide!



Ha, ha, gods and kings; fill high, one and all;
Drink, drink! shout and drink! mad respond to the call!
Fill fast, and fill full; 'gainst the goblet ne'er sin;
Quaff there, at high tide, to the uttermost rim:—
Flood-tide, and soul-tide to the brim!
Who with wine in him fears? who thinks of his cares?
Who sighs to be wise, when wine in him flares?
Water sinks down below, in currents full slow;
But wine mounts on high with its genial glow:—
Welling up, till the brain overflow!
As the spheres, with a roll, some fiery of soul,
Others golden, with music, revolve round the pole;
So let our cups, radiant with many hued wines,
Round and round in groups circle, our Zodiac's Signs:—
Round reeling, and ringing their chimes!
Then drink, gods and kings; wine merriment bring;
It bounds through the veins; there, jubilant sings.
Let it ebb, then, and flow; wine never grows dim;
Drain down that bright tide at the foam beaded rim:—
Fill up, every cup, to the brim!



Like the fish of the bright and twittering fin,
Bright fish! diving deep as high soars the lark,
So, far, far, far, doth the maiden swim,
Wild song, wild light, in still ocean's dark.


Oh! royal is the rose,
But barbed with many a dart;
Beware, beware the rose,
'Tis cankered at the heart.
Sweet, sweet the sunny down,
Oh! lily, lily, lily down!
Sweet, sweet, Verbena's bloom!
Oh! pleasant, gentle, musky bloom!
Dread, dread the sunny down;
Lo! lily-hooded asp;
Blooms, blooms no more Verbena;
White-withered in your clasp.


Be merry, oh men of Mondoldo,
A maiden this night is to wed:
Be merry, oh damsels of Mardi,—
Flowers, flowers for the bridal bed.



We drop our dead in the sea,
The bottomless, bottomless sea;
Each bubble a hollow sigh,
As it sinks forever and aye.
We drop our dead in the sea,—
The dead reck not of aught;
We drop our dead in the sea,—
The sea ne'er gives it a thought.
Sink, sink, oh corpse, still sink,
Far down in the bottomless sea,
Where the unknown forms do prowl,
Down, down in the bottomless sea.
'Tis night above, and night all round,
And night will it be with thee;
As thou sinkest, and sinkest for aye,
Deeper down in the bottomless sea.


Far off in the sea is Marlena,
A land of shades and streams,
A land of many delights.
Dark and bold, thy shores, Marlena;
But green, and timorous, thy soft knolls,
Crouching behind the woodlands.


All shady thy hills; all gleaming thy springs,
Like eyes in the earth looking at you.
How charming thy haunts, Marlena!—
Oh, the waters that flow through Onimoo:
Oh, the leaves that rustle through Ponoo:
Oh, the roses that blossom in Tarma.
Come, and see the valley of Vina:
How sweet, how sweet, the Isles from Hina:
'Tis aye afternoon of the full, full moon,
And ever the season of fruit,
And ever the hour of flowers,
And never the time of rains and gales,
All in and about Marlena.
Soft sigh the boughs in the stilly air,
Soft lap the beach the billows there;
And in the woods or by the streams,
You needs must nod in the Land of Dreams.


“Awake Rarni! awake Foloona!
Awake unnumbered deities!”


Care is all stuff:—
Puff! Puff!
To puff is enough:—
Puff! Puff!


More musky than snuff,
And warm is a puff:—
Puff! Puff!
Here we sit mid our puffs,
Like old lords in their ruffs,
Snug as bears in their muffs:—
Puff! Puff!
Then puff, puff, puff,
For care is all stuff,
Puffed off in a puff.—
Puff! Puff!


My lord nodded, and Yoomy sang:—
“Full round, full soft, her dewy arms,—
Sweet shelter from all Mardi's harms!”
“Whose arms?” cried Mohi.
Sang Yoomy:—
Diving deep in the sea,
She takes sunshine along:
Down flames in the sea,
As of dolphins a throng.
“What mermaid is this? cried Mohi.
Sang Yoomy:—


Her foot, a falling sound,
That all day long might bound.
Over the beach,
The soft sand beach,
And none would find
A trace behind.


A ray of the moon on the dancing waves
Is the step, light step of that beautiful maid:
Mardi, with music, her footfall paves,
And her voice, no voice, but a song in the glade.


Our clubs! our clubs!
The thousand clubs of Narvi!
Of the living trunk of the Palm-tree made;
Skull breakers! Brain spatterers!
Wielded right, and wielded left;
Life quenchers! Death dealers!
Causing live bodies to run headless!
Our bows! our bows!
The thousand bows of Narvi!
Ribs of Tara, god of War!
Fashioned from the light Tola their arrows;


Swift messengers! Heart piercers!
Barbed with sharp pearl shells;
Winged with white tail-plumes;
To wild death-chants, strung with the hair of wild maidens!
Our spears! our spears!
The thousand spears of Narvi!
Of the thunder-riven Moo-tree made:
Tall tree, couched on the long mountain Lana!
No staves for gray-beards! no rods for fishermen!
Tempered by fierce sea-winds,
Splintered into lances by lightnings,
Long arrows! Heart seekers!
Toughened by fire their sharp black points!
Our slings! our slings!
The thousand slings of Narvi!
All tasseled, and braided, and gaily bedecked.
In peace, our girdles; in war, our war-nets;
Wherewith catch we heads as fish from the deep!
The pebbles they hurl, have been hurled before,—
Hurled up on the beach by the stormy sea!
Pebbles, buried erewhile in the head of the shark:
To be buried erelong in the heads of our foes!
Home of hard blows, our pouches!
Nest of death-eggs! How quickly they hatch!


Uplift, and couch we our spears, men!
Ring hollow on the rocks our war clubs!
Bend we our bows, feel the points of our arrows:
Aloft, whirl in eddies our sling-nets;
To the fight, men of Narvi!
Sons of battle! Hunters of men!
Raise high your war-wood!
Shout Narvi! her groves in the storm!


Quack! Quack! Quack!
With a toorooloo whack;
Hack away, merry men, hack away.
Who would not die brave,
His ear smote by a stave?
Thwack away, merry men, thwack away!
'Tis glory that calls,
To each hero that falls,
Hack away, merry men, hack away!
Quack! Quack! Quack!
Quack! Quack!



Departed the pride, and the glory of Mardi:
The vaunt of her isles sleeps deep in the sea,
That rolls o'er his corse with a hush.
His warriors bend over their spears,
His sisters gaze upward and mourn.
Weep, weep, for Adondo is dead!
The sun has gone down in a shower;
Buried in clouds the face of the moon;
Tears stand in the eyes of the starry skies,
And stand in the eyes of the flowers;
And streams of tears are the trickling brooks,
Coursing adown the mountains.—
Departed the pride, and the glory of Mardi:
The vaunt of her isles sleeps deep in the sea.
Fast falls the small rain on its bosom that sobs,—
Not showers of rain, but the tears of Oro.


Her bower is not of the vine,
But the wild, wild eglantine!
Not climbing a moldering arch,
But upheld by the fir-green larch.
Old ruins she flies:
To new valleys she hies;—
Not the hoar, moss-wood,
Ivied trees each a rood—
Not in Maramma she dwells,
Hollow with hermit cells.


'Tis a new, new isle!
An infant's its smile,
Soft-rocked by the sea.
Its bloom all in bud;
No tide at its flood,
In that fresh-born sea!
Spring! Spring where she dwells,
In her sycamore dells,
Where Mardi is young and new:
Its verdure all eyes with dew.
There, there! in the bright, balmy morns,
The young deer sprout their horns,
Deep-tangled in new-branching groves,
Where the Red-Rover Robin roves,—
Stooping his crest,
To his molting breast—
Rekindling the flambeau there!
Spring spring! where she dwells,
In her sycamore dells:—
Where, fulfilling their fates,
All creatures seek mates—
The thrush, the doe, and the hare!


Her sweet, sweet mouth!
The peach-pearl shell:—
Red edged its lips,
That softly swell,


Just oped to speak,
With blushing cheek,
That fisherman
With lonely spear
On the reef ken,
And lift to ear
Its voice to hear,—
Soft, sighing South!
Like this, like this,—
The rosy kiss!—
That maiden's mouth.
A shell! a shell!
A vocal shell!
In its inmost dell!
Her bosom! Two buds half blown, they tell;
A little valley between perfuming;
That roves away,
Deserting the day,—
The day of her eyes illuming;—
That roves away, o'er slope and fell,
Till a soft, soft meadow becomes the dell.



We rovers bold,
To the land of Gold,
Over the bowling billows are gliding:
Eager to toil,
For the golden spoil,
And every hardship biding.
See! See!
Before our prows' resistless dashes
The gold-fish fly in golden flashes!
'Neath a sun of gold,
We rovers bold,
On the golden land are gaining;
And every night,
We steer aright,
By golden stars unwaning!
All fires burn a golden glare:
No locks so bright as golden hair!
All orange groves have golden gushings:
All mornings dawn with golden flushings!
In a shower of gold, say fables old,
A maiden was won by the god of gold!
In golden goblets wine is beaming:
On golden couches kings are dreaming!
The Golden Rule dries many tears!
The Golden Number rules the spheres!
Gold, gold it is, that sways the nations:
Gold! gold! the center of all rotations!
On golden axles worlds are turning:
With phosphorescence seas are burning!


All fire-flies flame with golden gleamings:
Gold-hunters' hearts with golden dreamings!
With golden arrows kings are slain:
With gold we'll buy a freeman's name!
In toilsome trades, for scanty earnings,
At home we've slaved, with stifled yearnings:
No light! no hope! Oh, heavy woe!
When nights fled fast, and days dragged slow.
But joyful now, with eager eye,
Fast to the Promised Land we fly:
Where in deep mines,
The treasure shines;
Or down in beds of golden streams,
The gold-flakes glance in golden gleams!
How we long to sift,
That yellow drift!
Rivers! Rivers! cease your going!
Sand-bars! rise, and stay the tide!
'Till we've gained the golden flowing;
And in the golden haven ride!


Half-veiled above the hills, yet rosy bright,
Stands fresh, and fair, the meek and blushing morn!
So Yillah looks! her pensive eyes the stars,
That mildly beam from out her cheek's young dawn!


But the still meek Dawn,
Is not aye the form
Of Yillah nor Morn!
Soon rises the sun,
Day's race to run:
His rays abroad,
Flash each a sword,—
And merrily forth they flare!
Sun-music in the air!
So Yillah now rises and flashes!
Rays shooting from out her long lashes,—
Sun-music in the air!
Her laugh! How it bounds!
Bright cascade of sounds!
Peal after peal, and ringing afar,—
Ringing of waters, that silvery jar,
From basin to basin fast falling!
Fast falling, and shining, and streaming:—
Yillah's bosom, the soft, heaving lake,
Where her laughs at last dimple, and flake!
Oh, beautiful Yillah! Thy step so free!—
Fast fly the sea-ripples,
Revealing their dimples,
When forth, thou hi'st to the frolicsome sea!
All the stars laugh,
When upward she looks:
All the trees chat
In their woody nooks:


All the brooks sing;
All the caves ring;
All the buds blossom;
All the boughs bound;
All the birds carol;
And leaves turn round,
Where Yillah looks!
Light wells from her soul's deep sun
Causing many toward her to run!
Vines to climb, and flowers to spring;
And youths their love by hundred's bring!


Stars laugh in the sky:
Oh fugle-fi!
The waves dimple below:
Oh fugle-fo!


The isles hold thee not, thou departed!
From thy bower, now issues no lay:—
In vain we recall perished warblings:
Spring birds, to far climes, wing their way!



Ho! merrily ho! we paddlers sail!
Ho! over sea-dingle, and dale!—
All fire-flies flame with golden gleamings!
Our pulses fly,
Our hearts beat high,
Ho! merrily, merrily ho!


Hail! voyagers, hail!
Whence e'er ye come, where'er ye rove,
No calmer strand,
No sweeter land,
Will e'er ye view, than the Land of Love!
Hail! voyagers, hail!
To these, our shores, soft gales invite:
The palm plumes wave,
The billows lave,
And hither point fix'd stars of light!
Hail! voyagers, hail!
Think not our groves wide brood with gloom;
In this, our isle,
Bright flowers smile:
Full urns, rose-heaped, these valleys bloom.


Hail! voyagers, hail!
Be not deceived; renounce vain things;
Ye may not find
A tranquil mind,
Though hence ye sail with swiftest wings.
Hail! voyagers, hail!
Time flies full fast; life soon is o'er;
And ye may mourn,
That hither borne,
Ye left behind our pleasant shore.

From Moby-Dick


The ribs and terrors in the whale,
Arched over me a dismal gloom,
While all God's sun-lit waves rolled by,
And lift me deepening down to doom.
I saw the opening maw of hell,
With endless pains and sorrows there;
Which none but they that feel can tell—
Oh, I was plunging to despair.
In black distress, I called my God,
When I could scarce believe him mine,
He bowed his ear to my complaints—
No more the whale did me confine.
With speed he flew to my relief,
As on a radiant dolphin borne;


Awful, yet bright, as lightning shone
The face of my Deliverer God.
My song for ever shall record
That terrible, that joyful hour;
I give the glory to my God,
His all the mercy and the power.


We'll drink to-night with hearts as light,
To love, as gay and fleeting
As bubbles that swim, on the beaker's brim,
And break on the lips while meeting.

From “Under the Rose


“Specks, tiny specks, in this translucent amber:
Your leave, bride-roses, may one pry and see?
How odd! a dainty little skeleton-chamber;
And—odder yet—sealed walls but windows be!
Death's open secret.—Well, we are;
And here comes the jolly angel with the jar!”


From Piazza Tales


Oh Brother Jack, as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I.
Just so game and just so gay,
But now, alack, they've stopped my pay.
No more I peep out of my blinkers,
Here I bee—tucked in with clinkers.

From Billy Budd


Good of the Chaplain to enter Lone Bay
And down on his marrow-bones here and pray
For the likes just o' me, Billy Budd.—But, look:
Through the port comes the moon-shine astray!
It tips the guard's cutlas and silvers this nook;
But 'twill die in the dawning of Billy's last day.
A jewel-block they'll make of me tomorrow,
Pendant pearl from the yard-arm-end
Like the ear-drop I gave to Bristol Molly—
O, 'tis me, not the sentence they'll suspend.
Ay, ay, all is up; and I must up too
Early in the morning, aloft from alow.
On an empty stomach now never it would do.
They'll give me a nibble-but o'buiscit ere I go.
Sure, a messmate will reach me the last parting cup;
But, turning heads away from the hoist and the belay,
Heaven knows who will have the running of me up!


No pipe to those halyards.—But aren't it all sham?
A blur's in my eyes; it is dreaming that I am.
A hatchet to my hawzer? all adrift to go?
The drum roll to grog, and Billy never know?
But Danter he has promised to stand by the plank;
So I'll shake a friendly hand ere I sink.
But—no! It is dead then I'll be, come to think.—
I remember Taff the Welshman when he sank,
And his cheek it was like the budding pink.
But me they'll lash me in hammock, drop me deep
Fathoms down, fathoms down, how I'll dream fast asleep.
I feel it stealing now, Sentry, are you there?
Just ease this darbies at the wrist, and roll me over fair,
I am sleepy, and the oozy weeds about me twist.