by: Thomas Buchanan Read (1822-1872)

      Y soul to-day
      Is far away,
      Sailing the Vesuvian Bay;
      My wingèd boat,
      A bird afloat,
      Swings round the purple peaks remote:--
      Round purple peaks
      It sails, and seeks
      Blue inlets and their crystal creeks,
      Where high rocks throw,
      Through deeps below,
      A duplicated golden glow.
      Far, vague, and dim,
      The mountains swim;
      While on Vesuvius' misty brim,
      With outstretched hands,
      The gray smoke stands
      O'erlooking the volcanic lands.
      Here Ischia smiles
      O'er liquid miles;
      And yonder, bluest of the isles,
      Calm Capri waits,
      Her sapphire gates
      Beguiling to her bright estates.
      I heed not if
      My rippling skiff
      Float swift or slow from cliff to cliff;
      With dreamful eyes
      My spirit lies
      Under the walls of Paradise.
      Under the walls
      Where swells and falls
      The Bay's deep breast at intervals,
      At peace I lie,
      Blown softly by,
      A cloud upon this liquid sky.
      The day, so mild,
      Is Heaven's own child,
      With Earth and Ocean reconciled;
      The airs I feel
      Around me steal
      Are murmuring to the murmuring keel.
      Over the rail
      My hand I trail
      Within the shadow of the sail,
      A joy intense,
      The cooling sense
      Glides down my drowsy indolence.
      With dreamful eyes
      My spirit lies
      Where Summer sings and never dies,--
      O'erveiled with vines
      She glows and shines
      Among her future oil and wines.
      Her children, hid
      The cliffs amid,
      Are gamboling with the gamboling kid;
      Or down the walls,
      With tipsy calls,
      Laugh on the rocks like waterfalls.
      The fisher's child,
      With tresses wild,
      Unto the smooth, bright sand beguiled,
      With glowing lips
      Sings as she skips,
      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,
      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!
      O happy crew,
      My heart with you
      Sails, and sails, and sings anew!
      No more, no more
      The worldly shore
      Upbraids me with its loud uproar!
      With dreamful eyes
      My spirit lies
      Under the walls of Paradise!

"Drifting" is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.




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