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Anna Jane Vardill

The Carnival Of Corfu

A Fragment

“Farewell, ye busy hidden hands
 That sweets and roses show’r!
Ye firefly lamps, ye antic bands,
 Flit on from bow’r to bow’r!

And ye, with locks and eyes of jet,
 The mystic dance forbear!—
Your thin mantillas’ gaudy net
 For lighter hearts prepare.

There is a wound ye cannot know,—
 A pang no tongue can tell:—
With me to other lands they go—
 My native isle, farewell!

Sweet Dora!—where is now thy thought,
 And where thy melting eye
If kindred souls commune in aught,
 Thy own may hover nigh.

Perhaps thou see’st the cold moon’s face
 Half-hid in floating shade,
And think’st how soon the silver trace
 Of memory may fade:

But think not thus—unseen a while
 The clouded moon may shine,
Yet higher heavens possess her smile,
 As Fancy looks on thine.

Not in this hour of gorgeous light
 A thought of me recall,
Nor when thy maids with sandals bright
 Bound in the lattic’d hall;

But when on Corfu’s holy place
 Thy virgin-footsteps pause,
And he who claims thee from thy face
 Dares lift the sacred gauze;

Then send a thought to Malta’s isle,
 Then, Dora, think on me;
More than the kindest, loveliest smile,
 I prize one sigh from thee.

Yet no—when hope and joy are nigh,
 The fruitless thought repress;
O!—I could blame the briefest sigh
 That made thy triumph less:

Or breathe it gently from thy heart,
 And leave the cause unguess’d;
’Twould be too keen a pang to part,
 And not believe thee blest.

There is a thought that dare not glow—
 A sigh that shall not swell:—
With me to other lands they go—
 My native isle, farewell!”

       * * * * * *

The slipper is on her waxen foot,
 The myrtle in her hair,
The church is deck’d—but there is not
 A hand to lead her there.

“Throw off, throw off, your gay capotes!
 Speed hence with oar and sail!
From Goza’s isle yon faithless boats
 Have brought the poison’d bale.”

The minstrel troop, the priests of love,
 The dancing crowd are gone;
And she has only her dying dove
 To rest her head upon.

Who comes across St. Michael’s tide
 With lonely torch and oar?
He has borne away the cheerless bride
 Where none have steer’d before.

There is no moon-light in the sky
 To guide them as they go,
But the pilot-meteor flashes by,
 And the sea-stars gleam below.”

Scarce two moons since, the coral isle.[1]
 Rose on the dark blue sea,
Yet there he has built a green-rush pile
 The sick one’s bower to be.

And every night from Hybla’s hills
 The wild bee’s comb he brings,
And health in every cup he fills
 At Chios’ cavern-springs.

She rests on the ripe pomegranate’s flowers,
 With soft sleep on her eyes,
As the jasmine-branch among scarlet bowers
 Pale in its beauty lies.

And she is fresh and lovely still
 As in her bridal bloom;
Lovely as if an angel’s skill
 Had rais’d her from the tomb.

And now again the gallant prow
 Comes lightly to the sands,
And at its helm with hooded brow
 The muffled pilot stands.

“Lady!—thy bridal scarf prepare,
 St. Saffra’s churchmen wait;
The garland and the torch are there,
 The bridegroom at the gate:

Return in peace!—but when for thee
 The bridal feast they trim,
Think, tho’ thou gav’st thy love from me,
 I gave thee life for him!

Go to thy home!—our island-rock
 With spires and tow’rs is crown’d,
But only in one sunbright spot
 The balsam-tree is found:

And in my memory this hour
 Shall be the sunbright spot,
The blighted desert’s secret bow’r,
 The balsam of my lot.

I win a treasure none can buy,
 A triumph none can tell;
I win thy blessing and thy sigh—
 Land of my love, farewell!”


  1. An islet of coralline appeared lately in the Ionian sea. 

The European Magazine, Vol. 75, March 1819, pp. 262-263