The night has come, when I may sleep,
To dream, perchance, of thee.
And where art thou? Where south winds sweep
Along a southern sea.
Thy home a glorious tropic isle,
On which the sun with pride
Doth smile, as might a sultan smile
On his Circassian bride.
And where the south wind gently stirs
A chime of fragrant bells,
While come the waves as worshippers,
With rosary of shells,
The altars of the shore to wreathe,
Where, in the twilight dim,
Like nuns, the foam-veiled breakers breathe
Their wild and gushing hymn.
The night has come, and I will glide
O'er sleep's hushed waves the while,
In dreams to wander by thy side
Through that enchanting isle.
For, in the dark, my fancy seems
As full of witching spells
As yon blue sky of starry beams
Or ocean-depth of shells.
Yet sometimes visions do becloud
My soul with such strange fears,
They wrap me like an icy shroud
And leave my soul in tears.
For once methought thy hand did bind
Upon my brow a wreath
In which a viper was entwined
That stung me--unto death!
And once within a lotus-cup,
Which thou to me didst bring,
A deadly vampire folded up
Its cold and murky wing,
And springing from that dewy nest
It drained life's azure rills,
That wandered o'er my swelling breast
Like brooks through snow-clad hills.
Yet seemed it sweeter thus to die
There, in thy very sight,
Than see thee, 'neath that tropic sky,
As in my dreams last night!
For lo! within a palmy grove,
Unto an Eastern maid
I heard thee whisp'ring vows of love
Beneath the feathery shade.
And stately as the palm was she,
Yet thrilled with thy wild words,
As its green crown might shaken be
By many bright-winged birds;
And, 'neath thy smile, in her dark eye
A rapturous light did spring,
As in a lake soft shadows lie,
Dropped from the rainbow's wing.
No serpent from the wreath did start,
Which round her brow was twined,
Nor in the lotus' perfumed heart
Did she a vampire find;
For humming-birds were nestled there,
By summer sweets oppressed,--
A type of her whose raven hair
Was floating o'er thy breast.
While thus I dreamed, all cold and mute
My warm, glad heart had grown,
Like some fair flower or sunny fruit
Turned by the waves to stone;
For o'er the treasures of my soul
There swept a blacker tide
Than e'en the dismal floods that roll
O'er Sodom's buried pride.
But passed away that vision dark,
And now once more I come,
In slumber's slight, fantastic bark,
Unto thy island home.
And thou art waiting there for me
To weep upon thy breast,
As on the shore the troubled sea
Doth sigh itself to rest.
My wreath seems now of orange-flowers,
And from the chaplet pale
Do glow-worms drop in shining showers
To weave my bridal veil.
The stars--God's holy tapers--light
The altars of the shore,
And on us doth the solemn night
A benediction pour.