« PreviousContinue »
The power of Armies is a visible thing,
Formal, and circumscribed in time and place;
But who the limits of that power can trace
Which a brave People into light can bring
Or hide, at will, — for Freedom combating,
By just revenge enflamed? No foot can chase,
No eye can follow to a fatal place
That power, that spirit, whether on the wing
Like the strong wind, or sleeping like the wind
Within its awful caves. — From year to year
Springs this indigenous produce far and near;
No craft this subtle element can bind,
Rising like water from the soil, to find
In every nook a lip that it may cheer.
Here pause: the Poet claims at least this praise
That virtuous Liberty hath been the scope .
Of his pure song, which did not shrink from hope
In the worst moment of these evil days;
From hope, the paramount duty that Heaven lays,
For its own honour, on man's suffering heart.
Never may from our souls one truth depart,
That an accursed thing it is to gaze
On prosperous Tyrants with a dazzled eye;
Nor, touched with due abhorrence of their guilt
For whose dire ends tears flow, and blood is spilt,
And justice labours in extremity,
Forget thy weakness, upon which is built,
O wretched Man, the throne of Tyranny I
COMPOSED IN RECOLLECTION OF THE EXPEDITION OF THE FRENCH INTO RUSSIA.
Humanity, delighting to behold A fond reflection of her own decay, Hath painted Winter like a Traveller old, Propped on a staff— and, through the sullen day, In hooded mantle, limping o'er the Plain, As though his weakness were disturbed by pain; Or, if a juster fancy should allow An undisputed symbol of command, The chosen sceptre is a withered bough, Infirmly grasped within a palsied hand. These emblems suit the helpless and forlorn; But mighty Winter the device shall scorn.
For he it was—dread Winter! — who beset, Flinging round van and rear his ghastly net, That host, —when from the regions of the Pole They shrunk, insane ambition's barren goal,
That host, — as hugh and strong as e'er defied
Their God, and placed their trust in human pride!
As Fathers persecute rebellious sons,
He smote the blossoms of their warrior youth;
He called on Frost's inexorable tooth
Life to consume in manhood's firmest hold;
Nor spared the reverend blood that feebly runs,—
For why, unless for liberty enrolled
And sacred home, ah! why should hoary age be
Fleet the Tartar's reinless steed, —
But fleeter far the pinions of the Wind,
Which from Siberian caves the monarch freed,
And sent him forth, with squadrons of his kind,
And bade the Snow their ample backs bestride, And to the battle ride; —
No pitying voice commands a halt —
No courage can repel the dire assault, —
Distracted, spiritless, benumbed and blind,
Whole legions sink —and, in one instant, find
Burial and death: look for them —and descry,
When morn returns, beneath the clear blue sky,
A soundless waste, a trackless vacancy!
VOL. III. N
Ye Storms, resound the praises of your King!
And ye mild Seasons — in a sunny clime,
Midway on some high hill, while Father Time
Looks on delighted — meet in festal ring,
And loud and long of Winter's triumph sing!
Sing ye, with blossoms crowned, and fruits, and flowers, Of Winter's breath surcharged with sleety showers,
And the dire flapping of his hoary wing!Knit the blithe dance upon the soft green grass;With feet, hands, eyes, looks, lips, report your gain;Whisper it to the billows of the main,
And to the aerial zephyrs as they pass,
That old decrepit Winter — He hath slain
That Host, which rendered all your bounties vain .