Yet from the shore where Ganges rolls
His wave beneath the torrid ray,
To Earth's chill verge, where o'er the poles
Fall the last beams of lingering day.
For ever sacred are the dead?
Sweet Fancy comes in Sorrow's aid,
And bids the mourner lightly tread
Where the insensate clay is laid:
Bids partial gloom the sod invest
By the mouldering relics press'd;
Then lavish strews, with sad delight,
What'er her consecrating power
Reveres of herb, or fruit, or flower,
And fondly weaves the various rite.
See! o'er Otaheite's plain
Moves the long, funereal train;
Slow the pallid corse they bear,
Oft they breathe the solemn prayer:
Where the ocean bathes the land,
Thrice, and thrice, with pious hand,
The priest, when high the billow springs,
From the wave unsullied, flings
Waters pure, that, sprinkled near,
Sanctify the hallow'd bier:
But never may one drop profane
The relics with forbidden stain!
Now around the funeral shrine,
Led in mystic mazes, twine
Garlands, where the plantain weaves
With the palm's luxuriant leaves;
And o'er each sacred knot is spread
The plant devoted to the dead.
Five pale moons with trembling light
Shall gaze upon the lengthen'd rite;
Shall see distracted Beauty tear
The tresses of her flowing hair:
Those shining locks, no longer dear,
She wildly scatters o'er the bier;
And careless gives the frequent wound
That bathes in precious blood the ground.
When along the western sky,
Day's reflected colours die,
And Twilight rules the doubtful hour
Ere slow-paced Night resumes her power;
Mark the cloud that lingers still
Darkly on the hanging hill!
There the disembodied mind
Hears, upon the hollow wind,
In unequal cadence thrown,
Sorrow's oft repeated moan: -
Still some human passions sway
The spirit late immersed in clay;
Still the faithful sigh is dear,
Still beloved the fruitless tear!