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One might believe that natural miseries
Had blasted France, and made of it a land
Unfit for Men; and that in one great Band
Her Sons were bursting forth, to dwell at ease.
But 'tis a chosen soil, where sun and breeze
Shed gentle favours; rural works are there;
And ordinary business without care;
Spot rich in all things that can soothe and please!
How piteous then that there should be such dearth
Of knowledge; that whole myriads should unite
To work against themselves such fell despite:
Should come in phrenzy and in drunken mirth,
Impatient to put out the only light
Of Liberty that yet remains on Earth!
There is a bondage which is worse to bear
Then his who breathes, by roof, and floor, and wall,
Pent in, a Tyrant's solitary Thrall:
'Tis his who walks about in the open air,
One of a Nation who, henceforth, must wear
Their fetters in their Souls. For who could be,
Who, even the best, in such condition, free
From self-reproach, reproach which he must share
With Human Nature? Never be it ours
To see the Sun how brightly it will shine,
And know that noble Feelings, manly Powers,
Instead of gathering strength must droop and pine,
And Earth with all her pleasant fruits and flowers
Fade, and participate in Man's decline.
These times touch monied Worldlings with dismay: Even rich men, brave by nature, taint the air With words of apprehension and despair:While tens of thousands, thinking on the affray, Men unto whom sufficient for the day And minds not stinted or untilled are given, Sound, healthy Children of the God of Heaven,
Are cheerful as the rising Sun in May.
What do we gather hence but firmer faith
That every gift of noble origin
Is breathed upon by Hope's perpetual breath;
That virtue and the faculties within
Are vital, — and that riches are akin
To fear, to change, to cowardice, and death I
England ! the time is come whenthoushouldst wean
Thy heart from its emasculating food;
The truth should now be better understood;
Old things have been unsettled; we have seen
Fair seed-time, better harvest might have been
But for thy trespasses; and, at this day,
If for Greece, Egypt, India, Africa,
Aught good were destined, Thou wouldst step between. England! all nations in this charge agree:But worse, more ignorant in love and hate
Far, far more abject is thine Enemy:Therefore the wise pray for thee, though the freight
Of thy offences be a heavy weight:Oh grief! that Earth's best hopes rest all with Thee!
When, looking on the present face of things,
I see one Man, of Men the meanest too!
Raised up to sway the World, to do, undo,
With mighty Nations for his Underlings,
The great events with which old story rings
Seem vain and hollow; I find nothing great;Nothing is left which I can venerate;So that almost a doubt within me springs
Of Providence, such emptiness at length
Seems at the heart of all things. But, great God
I measure back the steps which I have trod;And tremble, seeing, as I do, the strength
Of such poor Instruments, with thoughts sublime
I tremble at the sorrow of the time.