Such was the brother’s tale of earthly love—
He ceased, and sadly bowed his reverend head:
For us, we wept, and raised our eyes above,
And sang the ‘De Profundis’ for the dead.
A freshening breeze played on our moistened cheeks,
The far horizon oped its walls of light,
And lo! with purple hills and sun-bright peaks
A glorious isle gleamed on our gladdened sight,
THE PARADISE OF BIRDS.
“Post resurrectionis diem dominicae navigabitis ad altam insulam ad occidentalem plagam, quae vocatur PARADISUS AVIUM.”—“Life of St. Brendan,” in Capgrave, fol. 45.
It was the fairest and the sweetest scene—
The freshest, sunniest, smiling land that e’er
Held o’er the waves its arms of sheltering green
Unto the sea and storm-vexed mariner:—
No barren waste its gentle bosom scarred,
Nor suns that burn, nor breezes winged with ice,
Nor jagged rocks (Nature’s grey ruins) marred
The perfect features of that Paradise.
The verdant turf spreads from the crystal marge
Of the clear stream, up the soft-swelling hill,
Rose-bearing shrubs and stately cedars large
All o’er the land the pleasant prospect fill.
Unnumbered birds their glorious colours fling
Among the boughs that rustle in the breeze,
As if the meadow-flowers had taken wing
And settled on the green o’er-arching trees.
Oh! Ita, Ita, ’tis a grievous wrong,
That man commits who uninspired presumes
To sing the heavenly sweetness of their song—
To paint the glorious tinting of their plumes—
Plumes bright as jewels that from diadems
Fling over golden thrones their diamond rays—
Bright, even as bright as those three mystic gems,
The angel bore thee in thy childhood’s days.
There dwells the bird that to the farther west
Bears the sweet message of the coming spring;
June’s blushing roses paint his prophet breast,
And summer skies gleam from his azure wing.
While winter prowls around the neighbouring seas,
The happy bird dwells in his cedar nest,
Then flies away, and leaves his favourite trees
Unto this brother of the graceful crest.
Birds that with us are clothed in modest brown,
There wear a splendour words cannot express;
The sweet-voiced thrush beareth a golden crown,
And even the sparrow boasts a scarlet dress.
There partial nature fondles and illumes
The plainest offspring that her bosom bears;
The golden robin flies on fiery plumes,
And the small wren a purple ruby wears.
Birds, too, that even in our sunniest hours,
Ne’er to this cloudy land one moment stray,
Whose brilliant plumes, fleeting and fair as flowers,
Come with the flowers, and with the flowers decay.
The Indian bird, with hundred eyes, that throws
From his blue neck the azure of the skies,
And his pale brother of the northern snows,
Bearing white plumes, mirrored with brilliant eyes.