Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VII. Descriptive: Narrative
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VII. Descriptive: Narrative.  1904.
 
Descriptive Poems: III. Places
Drifting
Thomas Buchanan Read (1822–1872)
 
    MY soul to-day
    Is far away,
Sailing the Vesuvian Bay;
    My wingèd boat,
    A bird afloat,        5
Swims round the purple peaks remote:—
 
    Round purple peaks
    It sails, and seeks
Blue inlets and their crystal creeks,
    Where high rocks throw,        10
    Through deeps below,
A duplicated golden glow.
 
    Far, vague, and dim
    The mountains swim;
While, on Vesuvius’ misty brim,        15
    With outstretched hands,
    The gray smoke stands
O’erlooking the volcanic lands.
 
    Here Ischia smiles
    O’er liquid miles;        20
And yonder, bluest of the isles,
    Calm Capri waits,
    Her sapphire gates
Beguiling to her bright estates.
 
    I heed not, if        25
    My rippling skiff
Float swift or slow from cliff to cliff;—
    With dreamful eyes
    My spirit lies
Under the walls of Paradise.        30
 
    Under the walls
    Where swells and falls
The Bay’s deep breast at intervals,
    At peace I lie,
    Blown softly by,        35
A cloud upon this liquid sky.
 
    The day, so mild,
    Is Heaven’s own child,
With Earth and Ocean reconciled;—
    The airs I feel        40
    Around me steal
Are murmuring to the murmuring keel.
 
    Over the rail
    My hand I trail
Within the shadow of the sail;        45
    A joy intense,
    The cooling sense
Glides down my drowsy indolence.
 
    With dreamful eyes
    My spirit lies        50
Where Summer sings and never dies,—
    O’erveiled with vines,
    She glows and shines
Among her future oil and wines.
 
    Her children, hid        55
    The cliffs amid,
Are gambolling with the gambolling kid;
    Or down the walls,
    With tipsy calls,
Laugh on the rocks like waterfalls.        60
 
    The fisher’s child,
    With tresses wild,
Unto the smooth, bright sand beguiled,
    With glowing lips
    Sings as she skips,        65
Or gazes at the far-off ships.
 
    Yon deep bark goes
    Where Traffic blows,
From lands of sun to lands of snows;—
    This happier one,        70
    Its course is run
From lands of snow to lands of sun.
 
    O happy ship,
    To rise and dip,
With the blue crystal at your lip!        75
    O happy crew,
    My heart with you
Sails, and sails, and sings anew!
 
    No more, no more
    The worldly shore        80
Upbraids me with its loud uproar!
    With dreamful eyes
    My spirit lies
Under the walls of Paradise!
 
    In lofty lines,        85
    Mid palms and pines,
And olives, aloes, elms, and vines,
    Sorrento swings
    On sunset wings,
Where Tasso’s spirit soars and sings.        90
 
 
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