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Humaner thoughts this little band inspired,
34. Nor is their virtuous hope devoid of fear; The perils of that enterprise they know, Some savage horde may have its fastness here, A race to whom a stranger is a foe, Who not for friendly words, nor proffer'd show Of gifts, will peace or parley entertain. If by such hands their blameless blood should flow
To serve the Lamb who for their sins was slain, Blessed indeed their lot, for so to die is gain !
35. Them thus pursuing where the track may lead, A human voice arrests upon
way; They stop, and thither whence the sounds proceed, All eyes are turn’d in wonder,
not dismay, For sure such sounds might charm all fear away; No nightingale whose brooding mate is nigh, From some sequester’d bower at close of day,
No lark rejoicing in the orient sky,
36. The voice which through the ringing forest floats Is one which having ne'er been taught the skill Of marshalling sweet words to sweeter notes, Utters all unpremeditate, at will, A modulated sequence loud and shrill Of inarticulate and long-breathed sound, Varying its tones with rise and fall and trill,
Till all the solitary woods around With that far-piercing power of melody resound.
37. In mute astonishment attent to hear, As if by some enchantment held, they stood, With bending head, fix'd eye, and eager ear, And hand upraised in warning attitude To check all speech or step that might intrude On thatsweet strain. Them leaving thus spell-bound, A little way alone into the wood
The Father gently moved toward the sound, Treading with quiet feet upon the grassy ground. .
So to have heard so fair a creature sing
Rejoicing in her consciousness of power,
That with the music of its dying strain
41. It might be deem'd some dim presage possess'd The virgin's soul; that some mysterious sense Of change to come, upon her mind impressid, Had then callid forth, ere she departed thence, A requiem to their days of innocence. For what thou losest in thy native shade There is one change alone that may compensc,
O Mooma, innocent and simple maid, Only one change, and it will not be long delay'd !
42. When now the Father issued from the wood Into that little glade in open sight, Like one entranced, beholding him, she stood ; Yet had she more of wonder than affright, Yet less of wonder than of dread delight, When thus the actual vision came in view ; For instantly the maiden read aright
Wherefore he came ; his garb and beard she knew; All that her mother heard had then indeed been true.
43. Nor was the Father fill’d with less surprise ; He too strange fancies well might entertain, When this so fair a creature met his eyes. He might have thought her not of mortal strain ; Rather, as bards of yore were wont to feign, A nymph divine of Mondai's secret stream; Or haply of Diana's woodland train:
For in her beauty Mooma such might seem, Being less a child of earth than like a poet's dream.
44. No art of barbarous ornament had scarr'd And stain'd her virgin limbs, or 'filed her face; Nor ever yet had evil passion marr'd In her sweet countenance the natural grace Of innocence and youth ; nor was there trace Of sorrow, or of hardening want and care. Strange was it in this wild and savage place,
Which seem'd to be for beasts a fitting lair, Thus to behold a maid so gentle and so fair.
45. Across her shoulders was a hammock flung, By night it was the maiden's bed, by day Her only garment. Round her as it hung, In short unequal folds of loose array, The open meshes, when she moves, display Her form. She stood with fix'd and wondering eyes, And trembling like a leaf upon
the spray, Even for excess of joy, with eager cries She call'd her mother forth to share that glad surprise.
Tears for that unexpected blessing sprung,
And look impatiently toward his way,