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The Plow-man, following sad his meagre team,
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),
|It broods incumbent. Forthwith from the Plain,
Facing the Isle, a brighter cloud arose,
The Maiden paused, musing what this might mean-
When I have borne in memory what has tamed
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'
“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
YE Clouds! that far above me float and pause,
When France in wrath her giant-limbs uprear'd,
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
Forgive me, Freedom ' O forgive those dreams'
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.
FEARS IN SOLITUDE.
wRITTEN IN APRIL, 1798, DURING THE ALARM of An invasion.
A GREEN and silent spot, amid the hills,
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,
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,