HIGH on the cliff that framed the shore
I clambered, — on the cliff that bore
Upon its naked crest and sides
The signs of early chafing tides;
Where sculpturing icebergs deftly made
The pictured mountain peak and glade.
The dull refrain of restless waves
With echoed chords filled crags and caves,
And symphonies that rose and fell
With flow and ebb of ocean’s swell.
On high, a cloud majestic swept,
Athwart the sea its shadow crept.
Beneath the cliff, dividing land and bay,
In deep repose the darkened forest lay.
The noisy waters rolled in tuneful sound;
The voiceless woods were still with calm profound,
Save when a louder wave’s impetuous rush
Came faintly swelling to the inner hush.
No human foot had ever trod
That still, secluded, distant sod;
No human voice had ever rung
Those wild and silent trees among.
The stranger isle, by man unknown,
Pillowed in waves, had slept alone.
Descending from the sunburnt height,
I sought the cooler, mellowed light
That lay within the verdant shade
And with the timid sunbeams played.
Here e’en the fierce sun’s boldest rays
Entered abashed the leafy maze.
Upon a mossy mound, in thoughtful mood,
I lay reclusely shut within the wood.
The teasing winds the sleeping leaves awoke,
And through the dell their drowsy murmurs broke,
That fainter grew, and fainter growing died
As sped the winds to fret the distant tide.
I, gazing, lay, — my senses lulled
With odors sweet the air had culled,
And carried on her laden breast
As incense to her earliest guest, —
And saw, throughout, one breathing thing,
A butterfly on tinted wing.
The little monarch of the isle,
Flitting here and there awhile,
Poised on its purple throne, — a flower
Beneath the fern leaves’ shelt’ring bower.
“ Did Providence then mold,” thought I,
“ All this to feed a butterfly?
“ This sinless Eden but for that prepare?
These harmonies to die on empty air? ”
“ To form this spot no special plan was laid,”
The answer came from sea and cliff and glade;
“ God sowed the seed of law in chaos’ gloom,
One seed fell here, — the isle burst into bloom.”
Ernest Dale Owen.