Obrazy na stronie

The Plow-man, following sad his meagre team,
Turn'd up fresh sculls unstartled, and the bones
Of fierce hate-breathing combatants, who there
All mingled lay beneath the common earth,
Death's gloomy reconcilement! O'er the Fields
Stept a fair form, repairing all she might,
Her temples olive-wreathed; and where she trod
Fresh flowerets rose, and many a foodful herb.
But wan her cheek, her footsteps insecure,
And anxious pleasure beam'd in her faint eye,
As she had newly left a couch of pain,
Pale Convalescent! (yet some time to rule
With power exclusive o'er the willing world,
That bless'd prophetic mandate then fulfill'd,
Peace be on Earth!) A happy while, but brief,
She seem'd to wander with assiduous feet,
And heal'd the recent harm of chill and blight,
And nursed each plant that fair and virtuous grew.

But soon a deep precursive sound moan'd hollow: Black rose the clouds, and now (as in a dream) Their reddening shapes, transformed to Warrior

hosts, Coursed o'er the Sky, and battled in mid-air. Nor did not the large blood-drops fall from Heaven Portentous ! while aloft were seen to float, Like hideous features booming on the mist,

Wan Stains of ominous Light! Resign'd, yet sad, . The fair Form bowed her olive-crowned Brow, Then o'er the plain with ost-reverted eye Fled till a Place of Tombs she reach'd, and there Within a ruined Sepulchre obscure Found Hiding-place.

The delegated Maid Gazed through her tears, then in sad tones exclaim’d, “Thou mild-eyed Form' wherefore, ah! wherefore fled ! - The power of Justice, like a name all Light, Shone from thy brow; but all they, who unblamed Dwelt in thy dwellings, call thee Happiness. Ah! why, uninjured and unprofited, Should multitudes against their brethren rush ’ Why sow they guilt, still reaping Misery 1 Lenient of care, thy songs, O Peace are sweet, As after showers the perfumed gale of eve, That slings the cool drops on a feverous cheek: And gay the grassy altar piled with fruits. But boasts the shrine of Daemon War one charm, Save that with many an orgie strange and soul, Dancing around with interwoven arms, The Maniac Suicide and Giant Murder Exult in their fierce union ? I am sad, And know not why the simple Peasants crowd Beneath the Chieftains' standard ' " Thus the Maid.

To her the tutelary Spirit replied: “When Luxury and Lust's exhausted stores No more can rouse the appetites of Kings; When the low flattery of their reptile Lords Falls flat and heavy on the accustom'd ear; When Eunuchs sing, and Fools buffoonery make, And Dancers writhe their harlot-limbs in vain; Then War and all its dread vicissitudes Pleasingly agitate their stagnant Hearts; Its hopes, its fears, its victories, its defeats, Insipid Royalty's keen condiment : Therefore uninjured and unprofited

(Victims at once and Executioners),
The congregated Husbandmen lay waste
The Vineyard and the Harvest." As long
The Bothnic coast, or southward of the Line,
Though hush'd the Winds and cloudless the high
Noon, -
Yet if Leviathan, weary of ease,
In sports unwieldy toss his Island-bulk, -
Ocean behind him billows, and before
A storm of waves breaks foamy on the strand.
And hence, for times and seasons bloody and dark,
Short Peace shall skin the wounds of causeless War,
And War, his strained sinews knit anew,
Still violate the unfinish'd works of Peace.
But yonder look! for more demands thy view!”
He said: and straightway from the opposite Isle
A Vapor sailed, as when a cloud, exhaled
From Egypt's fields that steam hot pestilence,
Travels the sky for many a trackless league,
Till o'er some Death-doom'd land, distant in vain,

|It broods incumbent. Forthwith from the Plain,

Facing the Isle, a brighter cloud arose,
And steer'd its course which way the Vapor went.

The Maiden paused, musing what this might mean-
But long time pass'd not, ere that brighter cloud
Return'd more bright; along the plain it swept ;
And soon from forth its bursting sides emerged
A dazzling form, broad-bosom'd, bold of eye,
And wild her hair, save where with laurels bound.
Not more majestic stood the healing God,
When from his bow the arrow sped that slew
Huge Python. Shriek'd Ambition's giant throng,
And with them hiss'd the Locust-fiends that crawl'd
And glitter'd in Corruption's slimy track.
Great was their wrath, for short they knew their
reign ; -
And such commotion made they, and uproar,
As when the mad Tornado bellows through
The guilty islands of the western main,
What time departing from their native shores,
Eboe, or Koromantyn's" plain of Palms,

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

When I have borne in memory what has tamed
Great nations, how ennobling thoughts depart
When men change swords for legers, and desert
The student's bower for gold, some fears unnamed
I had, my country : Am I to be blamed !
But, when I think of Thee, and what Thou art,
Verily, in the bottom of my heart,
Of those unfilial fears I am ashamed.
But dearly must we prize thee; we who find ,
In thee a bulwark of the cause of men;
And I by my affection was beguiled.
What wonder if a poet, now and then,
Among the many movements of his mind,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

may appear to mortals. The second Strophe calls on men to suspend their private joys and sorrows, and devote them for a while to the cause of human nature in general. The first Epode speaks of the Empress of Russia, who died of an apoplexy on the 17th of November, 1796; having just concluded a subsidiary treaty with the Kings combined against France. The first and second Antistrophe describe

|the Image of the Departing Year, etc. as in a vision. |The second Epode prophesies, in anguish of spirit,

the downfall of this country.

- I. Spirit who sweepest the wild Harp of Time! It is most hard, with an untroubled ear Thy dark inwoven harmonies to hear! Yet, mine eye fix'd on Heaven's unchanging clime, Long when I listen'd, free from mortal fear, With inward stillness, and submitted mind; When lo! its solds far waving on the wind, I saw the train of the DEPARTING YEAR.' Starting from my silent sadness, Then with no unholy madness, Ere yet the enter'd cloud foreclosed my sight, I raised the impetuous song, and solemnized his flight.

Hither, from the recent tomb, From the prison's direr gloom, From Distemper's midnight anguish; And thence, where Poverty doth waste and languish, Or where, his two bright torches blending, Love illumines manhood's maze; Or where, o'er cradled infants bending, Hope has fix'd her wishful gaze, Hither, in perplexed dance, Ye Woes! ye young-eyed Joys! advance:

By Time's wild harp, and by the hand Whose indefatigable sweep Raises its fateful strings from sleep, I.bid you haste, a mix'd tumultuous band! From every private bower, And each domestic hearth, Haste for one solemn hour; And with a loud and yet a louder voice, O'er Nature struggling in portentous birth Weep and rejoice . . Still echoes the dread Name that o'er the earth Let slip the storm, and woke the bfood of Hell: And now advance in saintly Jubilee Justice and Truth! They too have heard thy spell. They too obey thy name, Divinest Liberty!

III. I mark'd Ambition in his war-array! I heard the mailed Monarch's troublous cry— “Ah! wherefore does the Northern Conqueress stay! Groans not her chariot on its onward way ?” Fly, mailed Monarch, fly! Stunn'd by Death's twice mortal mace, No more on Murder's lurid face The insatiate hag shall gloat with drunken eye' Manes of the unnumber'd slain' Ye that gasp'd on Warsaw's plain! Ye that erst at Ismail's tower, When human ruin choked the streams, Fell in conquest's glutted hour, "Mid women's shrieks and infants' screams! Spirits of the uncoffin'd slain, Sudden blasts of triumph swelling, Ost, at night, in misty train, Rush around her narrow dwelling! The exterminating fiend is fled— (Foul her life, and dark her doom) Mighty armies of the dead Dance like death-fires round her tomb! Then with prophetic song relate, Each some tyrant-murderer's fate'

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

“Thou in stormy blackness throning Love and uncreated Light, By the Earth's unsolaced groaning, Seize thy terrors, Arm of might! By Peace with proffer'd insult sacred, Masked Hate and envying Scorn! By Years of Havoc yet unborn! And Hunger's bosom to the frost-winds bared: But chief by Afric's wrongs, Strange, horrible, and soul! . By what deep guilt belongs To the deaf Synod, ‘full of gifts and lies!" By Wealth's insensate laugh! by Torture's howl! Avenger, rise ! For ever shall the thankless Island scowl, Her quiver full, and with unbroken bow Speak! from thy storm-black Heaven, O speak aloud! And on the darkling foe Open thine eye of fire from some uncertain cloud! O dart the flash! O rise and deal the blow! The past to thee, to thee the future cries! Hark! how wide Nature joins her groans below! Rise, God of Nature' rise.”


The voice had ceased, the vision fled; Yet still I gasp'd and reel'd with dread. And ever, when the dream of night Renews the phantom to my sight, Cold sweat-drops gather on my limbs; My ears throb hot; my eye-balls start; My brain with horrid tumult swims; Wild is the tempest of my heart; And my thick and struggling breath Imitates the toil of Death ! No stronger agony confounds The Soldier on the war-field spread, ..When all soredone with toil and wounds, Death-like he dozes among heaps of dead! (The strife is o'er, the day-light fled, And the night-wind clamors hoarse! See : the starting wretch's head Lies pillow'd on a brother's corse!)


Not yet enslaved, not wholly vile, O Albion! O my mother Isle! Thy valleys, fair as Eden's bowers, Glitter green with sunny showers; Thy grassy uplands' gentle swells Echo to the bleat of flocks . . (Those grassy hills, those glittering dells Proudly ramparted with rocks); And Ocean, 'mid his uproar wild Speaks safety to his Island-child' Hence, for many a fearless age Has social Quiet loved thy shore! Nor ever proud Invader's rage Or sack'd thy towers, or stain'd thy fields with gore.


Abandon'd of Heaven! mad Avarice thy guide, At cowardly distance, yet kindling with pride

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

YE Clouds! that far above me float and pause,
Whose pathless march no mortal may control!
Ye Ocean-Waves! that, wheresoe'er ye roll,
Yield homage only to eternal laws!
Ye Woods! that listen to the night-birds' singing,
Midway the smooth and perilous slope reclined,
Save when your own imperious branches swinging,
Have made a solemn music of the wind'
Where, like a man beloved of God,
Through glooms, which never woodman trod,
How of, pursuing fancies holy,
My moonlight way o'er flowering weeds I wound,
Inspired, beyond the guess of folly,
By each rude shape and wild unconquerable sound !
O ye lond Waves! and O ye Forests high'
And O ye Clouds that far above me soar'd?
Thou rising Sun' thou blue rejoicing Sky!
Yea, every thing that is and will be free!
Bear witness for me, wheresoe'er ye be,
With what deep worship I have still ador'd
The spirit of divinest Liberty.


When France in wrath her giant-limbs uprear'd,
And with that oath, which smote air, earth and sea,
Stamp'd her strong foot and said she would be free,
Bear witness for me, how I hoped and sear'd :
With what a joy my lofty gratulation
Unaw'd I sang, amid a slavish band :
And when to whelm the disenchanted nation,
Like fiends embattled by a wizard's wand,

The Monarchs march'd in evil day, And Britain joined the dire array; Though dear her shores and circling ocean, Though many friendships, many youthful loves Had swoln the patriot emotion, And flung a magic light o'er all her hills and groves; Yet still my voice, unalter'd, sang defeat To all that braved the tyrant-quelling lance, And shame too long delay'd and vain retreat! For ne'er, O Liberty! with partial aim I dimm'd thy light or damp'd thy holy flame; But bless'd the pacans of deliver'd France, And hung my head and wept at Britain's name.


“And what,"I said, “though Blasphemy's loud scream
With that sweet music of deliverance strove!
Though all the fierce and drunken passions wove
A dance more wild than e'er was maniac's dream :
Ye storms, that round the dawning east assembled,
The Sun was rising, though he hid his light!
And when, to soothe my soul, that hoped and
The dissonance ceased, and all seem'd calm and
When France her front deep-scarr'd and gory
Conceal’d with clustering wreaths of glory;
When, insupportably advancing,
Her arm made mockery of the warrior's tramp;
While timid looks of fury glancing,
Domestic treason, crush'd beneath her fatal stamp,
Writhed like a wounded dragon in his gore;
Then I reproach'd my fears that would not flee;
“And soon,” I said, “shall Wisdom teach her lore
In the low huts of them that toil and groan:
And, conquering by her happiness alone,
Shall France compel the nations to be free,
Till Love and Joy look round, and call the Earth
their own.”

[ocr errors]

Forgive me, Freedom ' O forgive those dreams'
I hear thy voice, I hear thy loud lament,
From bleak Helvetia's icy caverns sent—
I hearthy groans upon her blood-stain'd streams!
Heroes, that for your peaceful country perish'd;
And ye that, fleeing, spot your mountain-snows :
With bleeding wounds; forgive me that I cherish'd
One thought that ever bless'd your cruel foes!
To scatter rage, and traitorous guilt, .
Where Peace her jealous home had built;
A patriot race to disinherit
Of all that made their stormy wilds so dear;
And with inexpiable spirit
To taint the bloodless freedom of the mountaineer—
O France, that mockest Heaven, adulterous, blind,
And patriot only in pernicious toils'
Are these thy boasts, Champion of human-kind?
To mix with Kings in the low lust of sway,
Yell in the hunt, and share the murderous prey;
To insult the shrine of Liberty with spoils
From Freemen torn; to tempt and to betray?

V. The Sensual and the Dark rebel in vain, Slaves by their own compulsion' In mad game They burst their manacles and wear the name

Of Freedom, graven on a heavier chain'

O Liberty! with profitless endeavor Have I pursued thee, many a weary hour; But thou nor swell'st the victor's strain, nor ever Didst breathe thy soul in forms of human power. Alike from all, howe'er they praise thee (Not prayer nor boastful name delays thee), Alike from Priestcraft's harpy minions, And factious Blasphemy's obscener slaves, Thou speedest on thy subtle pinions, The guide of homeless winds, and playmates of the waves' And there I felt thee!—on that sea-cliff's verge, Whose pines, scarce travell'd by the breeze above, Had made one murmur with the distant surge' Yes, while I stood and gazed, my temples bare, And shot my being through earth, sea, and air, Possessing all things with intensest love, O Liberty! my spirit felt thee there.

February, 1797.


wRITTEN IN APRIL, 1798, DURING THE ALARM of An invasion.

A GREEN and silent spot, amid the hills,
A small and silent dell' O'er stiller place
No sinking sky-lark ever poised himself.
The hills are heathy, save that swelling slope,
Which hath a gay and gorgeous covering on,
All golden with the never-bloomless furze,
Which now blooms most profusely; but the dell,
Bathed by the mist, is fresh and delicate
As vernal corn-field, or the unripe flax,
When, through its half-transparent stalks, at eve,
The level Sunshine glimmers with green light.
Oh! 'tis a quiet spirit-healing nook!
Which all, methinks, would love; but chiefly he,
The humble man, who, in his youthful years,
Knew just so much of folly, as had made
His early manhood more securely wise!
Here he might lie on fern or wither'd heath,
While from the singing-lark (that sings unseen
The minstrelsy that solitude loves best),
And from the Sun, and from the breezy Air,
Sweet influences trembled o'er his frame;
And he, with many feelings, many thoughts,
Made up a meditative joy, and found
Religious meanings in the forms of nature!
And so, his senses gradually wrapt
In a half-sleep, he dreams of better worlds,
And dreaming hears thee still, O singing-lark!
That singest like an angel in the clouds!

My God! it is a melancholy thing For such a man, who would full sain preserve His soul in calmness, yet perforce must feel For all his human brethren—O my God! It weighs upon the heart, that he must think What uproar and what strife may now be stirring This way or that way o'er these silent hills— Invasion, and the thunder and the shout,

And all the crash of onset; fear and rage,
And undetermined conflict—even now,
Even now, perchance, and in his native isle;
Carnage and groans beneath this blessed Sun!
We have offended, Oh! my countrymen!
We have offended very grievously,
And been most tyrannous. From east to west
A groan of accusation pierces Heaven!
The wretched plead against us; multitudes
Countless and vehement, the Sons of God,
Our Brethren Like a cloud that travels on,
Steam'd up from Cairo's swamps of pestilence,
Even so, my countrymen! have we gone forth
And borne to distant tribes slavery and pangs,
And, deadlier far, our vices, whose deep taint
With slow perdition murders the whole man,
His body and his soul! Meanwhile, at home,
All individual dignity and power
Ingulf'd in Courts, Committees, Institutions,
Associations and Societies,
A vain, speech-mouthing, speech-reporting Guild,
One Benefit-Club for mutual flattery,
We have drunk up, demure as at a grace,
Pollutions from the brimming cup of wealth;
Contemptuous of all honorable rule,
Yet bartering freedom and the poor man's life
For gold, as at a market! The sweet words
Of Christian promise, words that even yet
Might stem destruction were they wisely preach'd,
Are mutter'd o'er by men, whose tones proclaim
How flat and wearisome they feel their trade:
Rank scoffers some, but most too indolent
To deem them falsehoods or to know their truth.
Oh! blasphemous! the "book of life is made
A superstitious instrument, on which
We gabble o'er the oaths we mean to break;
For all must swear—all and in every place,
College and wharf, council and justice-court;
All, all must swear, the briber and the bribed,
Merchant and lawyer, senator and priest,
The rich, the poor, the old man and the young;
All, all make up one scheme of perjury,
That faith doth reel; the very name of God
Sounds like a juggler's charm; and, bold with joy,
Forth from his dark and lonely hiding-place,
(Portentous sight!) the owlet Atheism,
Sailing on obscene wings athwart the noon,
Drops his blue-fringed lids, and holds them close,
And hooting at the glorious Sun in Heaven,
Cries out, “Where is it !”

Thankless too for peace (Peace long preserved by fleets and perilous seas), Secure from actual warfare, we have loved To swell the war-whoop, passionate for war! Alas! for ages ignorant of all Its ghastlier workings (famine or blue plague, Battle, or siege, or flight through wintry snows), We, this whole people, have been clamorous For war and bloodshed; animating sports, The which we pay for as a thing to talk of, Spectators and not combatants? No guess Anticipative of a wrong unfelt, No speculation or contingency, However dim and vague, too vague and dim To yield a justifying cause; and forth (Stuff"d out with big preamble, holy names,

« PoprzedniaDalej »