The Pleasures of Hope
|The Pleasures of Hope
At summer eve, when Heaven's ethereal bow
Spans with bright arch the glittering bills below,
Why to yon mountain turns the musing eye,
Whose sunbright summit mingles with the sky ?
Why do those clifts of shadowy tint appear
More sweet than all the landscape smiling near ?—
'T is distance lends enchantment to the view,
And robes the mountain in its azure hue.
Thus, with delight, we linger to survey
The promised joys of life's unmeasured way;
Thus, from afar, each dim-discovered scene
More pleasing seems than all the past hath been,
And every form, that Fancy can repair
From dark oblivion, glows divinely there.
What potent spirit guides the raptured eye
To pierce the shades of dim futurity ?
Can Wisdom lend, with all her heavenly power,
The pledge of Joy's anticipated hour ?
Ah, no! she darkly sees the fate of man—
Her dim horizon bounded to a span;
Or, if she hold an image to the view,
'T is Nature pictured too severely true.
With thee, sweet Hope! resides the heavenly light,
That pours remotest rapture on the sight:
Thine is the charm of life's bewildered way,
That calls each slumbering passion into play.
Waked by thy touch, I see the sister band,
On tiptoe watching, staft at thy command
And fly where'er thy mandate bids them steer,
To Pleasure's path or Glory's bright career.
Primeval Hope, the Aonian Muses say,
When Man and Nature mourned their first decay;
When every form of death, and every woe,
Shot from malignant stars to earth below ;
When Murder bared her arm, and rampant War
Yoked the red dragons of her iron car ;
When Peace and Mercy, banished from the plain,
Sprung on the viewless winds to Heaven again ;
All, all forsook the friendless, guilty mind,
But Hope, the charmer, lingered still behind.
Thus, while Elijah's burning wheels prepare
From Carmel's heights to sweep the fields of air,
The prophet's mantle, ere his fight began,
Dropt on the world—a sacred gift to man.
Auspicious Hope ! in thy sweet garden grow
Wreaths for each toil, a charm for every woe ;
Won by their sweets, in Nature's languid hour,
The way-worn pilgrim seeks thy summer bower ;
There, as the wild bee murmurs on the wing,
What peaceful dreams thy handmaid spirits bring
What viewless forms th' Æolian organ play,
And sweep the furrowed lines of anxious thought away.
Angel of life! thy glittering wings explore
Earth's loneliest bounds, and Ocean's wildest shore
Lo! to the wintry winds the pilot yields
His bark careering o'er unfathomed fields ;
Now on Atlantic waves he rides afar,
Where Andes, giant of the western star,
With meteor-standard to the winds unfurled,
Looks from his throne of clouds o'er half the world !
Now far he sweeps, where scarce a summer smiles,
On Behring's rocks, or Greenland's naked isles:
Cold on his midnight watch the breezes blow,
From wastes that slumber in eternal snow ;
And waft, across the waves' tumultuous roar,
The wolf's long howl from Oonalaska's shore.
Poor child of danger, nursling of the storm,
Sad are the woes that wreck thy manly form !
Rocks, waves, and winds, the shattered bark delay ;
Thy heart is sad, thy home is far away.
But Hope can here her moonlight vigils keep,
And sing to charm the spirit of the deep:
Swift as yon streamer lights the starry pole,
Her visions warm the watchman's pensive soul ;
His native hills that rise in happier climes,
The grot that heard his song of other times,
His cottage home, his bark of slender sail,
His glassy lake, and broomwood-blossomed vale,
Rush on his thought ; he sweeps before the wind,
Treads the loved shore he sighed to leave behind .
Meets at each step a friend's familiar face,
And flies at last to Helen's long embrace,
Wipes from her cheek the rapture-speaking tear !
And clasps, with many a sigh, his children dear !
While, long neglected, but at length caressed,
His faithful dog salutes the smiling guest,
Points to the master's eyes (where'er they roam)
His wistful face, and whines a welcome home.
Friend of the brave ! in peril's darkest hour,
Intrepid Virtue looks to thee for power ;
To thee the heart its trembling homage yields,
On stormy floods, and carnage-covered fields,
When front to front the bannered hosts combine,
Halt ere they close, and form the dreadful line.
When all is still on Death's devoted soil,
The march-worn soldier mingles for the toil !
As rings his glittering tube, he lifts on high
The dauntless brow and spirit-speaking eye,
Hails in his heart the triumph yet to come,
And hears thy stormy music in the drum !
And such thy strength inspiring aid that bore
The hardy Byron to his native shore—
In horrid climes; where Chiloe's tempests sweep
Tumultuous murmurs o'er the troubled deep,
'T was his to mourn Misfortune's rudest shock,
Scourged by the winds, and cradled on the rock,
To wake each joyless morn and search again
The famished haunts of solitary men ;
Whose race, unyielding as their native storm,
Know not a trace of Nature but the form
Yet at thy call, the hardy tar pursued,
Pale, but intrepid, sad, but unsubdued,
Pierced the deep woods, and hailing from afar
The moon's pale planet and the northern star,
Paused at each dreary cry, unheard before ;
Hyænas in the wild, and mermaids on the shore ;
Till, led by thee o'er many a cliff sublime,
He found a warmer world, a milder clime
A home to rest, a shelter to defend,
Peace and repose, a Briton and a friend !
Congenial Hope ! thy passion-kindling power,
How bright, how strong, in youth's untroubled hour!
On you proud height, with Genius hand in hand
I see thee 'light and wave thy golden wand.
"Go, child of Heaven ! (thy winged words pro-claim)
'T is thine to search the boundless fields of fame !
Lo ! Newton, priest of Nature ; shines afar ;
Scans the wide world, and numbers every star !
Wilt thou, with him, mysterious rites apply,
And watch the shrine with wonder-beaming eye !
Yes thou shalt mark, with magic art profound,
The speed of light, the circling march of sound :
With Franklin grasp the lightning's fiery wing,
Or yield the lyre of Heaven another string
“The Swedish sage admires, in yonder bowers,
His winged insects, and his rosy flowers ;
Calls from their woodland haunts the savage train,
With sounding horn, and counts them on the plain—
So once, at Heaven's command, the wanderers came
To Eden's shade, and heard their various name.
"Far from the world, in yen sequestered clime,
Slow pass the sons of Wisdom, more sublime;
Calm as the fields of Heaven, his sapient eye
The loved Athenian lifts to realms on high,
Admiring Plato, on his spotless page,
Stamps the bright dictates of the Father sage:
'Shall Nature bound to Earth's diurnal span
The fire of God ; th' immortal soul of man?'
"Turn, child of Heaven ; thy rapture-lightened eye
To Wisdom's walks, the sacred Nine are nigh:
Hark ! from bright spires that gild the Delphian height,
From streams that wander in eternal light,
Ranged on their hill, Harmonia's daughters swell
The mingling tones of horn, and harp and shell.
Deep from his vaults the Loxian murmurs flow,
And Pythia's awful organ peals below.
"Beloved of Heaven ! the smiling Muse shall shed
Her moonlight halo on thy beauteous head .
Shall swell thy heart to rapture unconfined,
And breathe a holy madness o'er thy mind.
I see thee roam her guardian power beneath,
And talk with spirits en the midnight heath ;
Enquire of guilty wanderers whence they came,
And ask each blood-stained form his earthly name
Then weave in rapid verse the deeds they tell,
And read the trembling world the tales of hell.
"When Venus, throned in clouds of rosy hue,
Flings from her golden urn the vesper dew,
And bids fond man her glimmering noon employ,
Sacred to love, and walks of tender joy ;
A milder mood the goddess shall recall,
And soft as dew thy tones of music fall ;
While Beauty's deeply-pictured smiles impart
A pang more dear than pleasure to the heart—
Warm as thy sighs shall flow the Lesbian strain,
And plead in Beauty's ear, nor plead in vain.
"Or wilt thou Orphean hymns more sacred deem,
And steep thy song in Mercy's mellow stream ;
To pensive drops the radiant eye beguile—
For Beauty's tears are lovelier than her smile ;
On Nature's throbbing anguish pour relief,
And teach impassioned souls the joy of grief?
" Yes ; to thy tongue shall seraph words be given,
And power on earth to plead the cause of Heaven:
The proud, the cold untroubled heart of stone,
That never mused on sorrow but its own,
Unlocks a generous store at thy command,
Like Horeb's rocks beneath the prophet's hand.
The living lumber of his kindred earth,
Charmed into soul, receives a second birth,
Feels thy dread power another heart afford,
Whose passion-touched harmonious strings accord
True as the circling spheres to Nature's plan ;
And man ; the brother, lives the friend of man.
"Bright as the pillar rose at Heaven' s command,
When Israel marched along the desert land,
Blazed through the night on lonely wilds afar,
And told the path—a never-setting star:
So, heavenly genius, in thy course divine,
Hope is thy star, her light is ever thine."
Propitious Power ! when rankling cares annoy
The sacred home of Hymenean joy ;
When doomed to Poverty's sequestered dell,
The wedded pair of love and virtue dwell,
Unpitied by the world, unknown to fame
Their woes, their wishes, and their hearts the same—
Oh, there, prophetic Hope ! thy smile bestow,
And chase the pangs that worth should never know—
There, as the parent deals his scanty store
To friendless babes, and weeps to give no more,
Tell, that his manly race shall yet assuage
Their father's wrongs, and shield his latter age.
What through for him no Hybla sweets distil,
Nor bloomy vices wave purple on the hill ;
Tell, that when silent years have passed away,
That when his eye grows dim, his tresses gray,
These busy hands a lovelier cot shall build,
And deck with fairer flowers his little field,
And call from Heaven propitious dews to breathe
Arcadian beauty on the barren heath .
Tell, that while Love's spontaneous smile endears,
The days of peace, the sabbath of his years,
Health shall prolong to many a festive hour
The social pleasures of his humble bower.
Lo ! at the couch where infant beauty sleeps,
Her silent watch the mournful mother keeps ;
She, while the lovely babe unconscious lies,
Smiles on her slumbering child with pensive eyes,
And weaves a song of melancholy joy—
Sleep, image of thy father, sleep, my boy ;
No lingering hour of sorrow shall be thine ;
No sigh that rends thy father's heart and mine ;
Bright as his manly sire the son shall be
In form and soul ; but, ah ! more blest than he !
Thy fame, thy worth, thy filial love at last,
Shall soothe his aching heart for all the past—
With many a smile my solitude repay,
And chase the world's ungenerous scorn away.
"And say, when summoned from the world and thee,
I lay my head beneath the willow tree,
Wilt thou, sweet mourner ! at my stone appear,
And soothe my parted spirit lingering near ?
Oh, wilt thou come at evening hour to shed
The tears of Memory o'er my narrow bed.
With aching temples on thy hand reclined,
Muse on the last farewell I leave behind,
Breathe a deep sigh to winds that murmur low
And think on all my love, and all my woe?"
So speaks affection, ere the infant eye
Can look regard, or brighten in reply ;
But when a cherub lip hath learnt to claim
A mother's ear by that endearing name ;
Soon as the playful innocent can prove
A tear of pity, or a smile of love,
Or cons his murmuring task beneath her care;
Or lisps with holy look his evening prayer,
Or gazing, mutely pensive sits to hear
The mournful ballad warbled in his ear ;
How fondly looks admiring Hope the while,
At every artless tear, and every smile ;
How glows the joyous parent to descry
A guileless bosom, true to sympathy !
Where is the troubled heart consigned to share
Tumultuous toils, or solitary care,
Unblest by visionary thoughts that stray
To count the joys of Fortune's better day!
Lo, nature, life, and liberty relume
The dim-eyed tenant of the dungeon gloom,
A long-lost friend, or hapless child restored,
Smiles at its blazing hearth and social board ;
Warm from his heart the tears of rapture flow,
And virtue triumphs o'er remembered woe.
Chide not his peace, proud Reason ; nor destroy
The shadowy forms of uncreated joy,
That urge the lingering tide of life, and pour
Spontaneous slumber on his midnight hour.
Hark ! the wild maniac sings, to chide the gale
That wafts so slow her lover's distant sail .
She, sad spectatress, on the wintry shore,
Watched the rude surge his shroudless corse that bore,
Knew the pale form, and, shrieking in amaze,
Clasped her cold hands ; and fixed her maddening gaze:
Poor widowed wretch ! 't was there she wept in vain,
Till Memory fled her agonizing brain;--
But Mercy gave, to charm the sense of woe,
Ideal peace, that truth could ne'er bestow ;
Warm oil her heart the joys of Fancy beam,
And aimless Hope delights her darkest dream.
Oft when yon moon has climbed the midnight sky,
And the lone sea-bird wakes its wildest cry,
Piled on the steep, her blazing fagots burn
To hail the bark that never can return ;
And still she waits, but scarce forbears to weep
That constant love can linger on the deep.
And, mark the wretch, whose wanderings never knew
Thie world's regard, that soothes, though half untrue;
Whose erring heart the lash of sorrow bore,
But found not pity when it erred no more.
Yon friendless man, at whose dejected eye
Th' unfeeling proud one looks—and passes by,
Condemned on Penury's barren path to roam,
Scorned by thie world, and left without a home—
Even he, at evening, should he chance to stray
Down by the hamlet's hawthorn-scented way,
Where, round the cot's romantic glade, are seen
The blossomed bean-field, and the sloping green,
Leans o'er its humble gate, and thinks the while—
Oh ! that for me some home like this would smile,
Some hamlet shade, to yield my sickly form
Health in the breeze, and shelter in the storm !
There should my hand no stinted boon assign
To wretched hearts with sorrow such as mine !—
That generous wish can soothe unpitied care,
And Hope half mingles with the poor man' s prayer.
Hope ! when I mourn, with sympathizing mind ;
The wrongs of fate, the woes of human kind,
Thy blissful omens bid my spirit see
The boundless fields of rapture yet to be ;
I watch the wheels of Nature's mazy plan,
And learn the future by the past of man.
Come, bright Improvement! on the car of Time,
And rule the spacious world from clime to clime ;
Thy handmaid arts shall every wild explore,
Trace every wave, and culture every shore.
On Erie's banks, where tigers steal along,
And the dread Indian chants a dismal song,
Where human fiends on midnight errands walk,
And bathe in brains the murderous tomahawk,
There shall the flocks on thymy pasture stray,
And shepherds dance at Summer's opening day ;
Each wandering genius of the lonely glen
Shall start to view the glittering haunts of men,
And silent watch, on woodland heights around,
The village curfew as it tolls profound.
In Libyan groves ; where damned rites are done,
That bathe the rocks in blood, and veil the sun,
Truth shall arrest the murderous arm profane,
Wild Obi flies—the veil is rent in twain.
Where barbarous hordes on Scythian mountains roam,
Truth, Mercy, Freedom, yet shall find a home ;
Where'er degraded Nature bleeds and pines,
From Guinea's coast to Sibir's dreary mines,
Truth shall pervade th' unfathomed darkness there,
And light the dreadful features of despair.—
Hark ! the stern captive spurns his heavy load,
And asks thie image back that Heaven bestowed !
Fierce in his eye the fire of valor burns,
And, as the slave departs, the man returns.
Oh ! sacred Truth ! thy triumph ceased awhile,
And Hope, thy sister, ceased with thee to smile,
When leagued Oppression poured to Northern wars
Her whiskered pandoors and her fierce hussars,
Waved her dread standard to the breeze of morn,
Pealed her loud drum, and twanged her trumpet horn ;
Tumultous horror brooded o'er her van,
Presaging wrath to Poland—and to man !
Warsaw's last champion from her height surveyed
Wide o'er the fields, a waste of ruin laid,--
Oh ! Heaven ! he cried, my bleeding country save !—
Is there no hand on high to shield the brave ?
Yet; though destruction sweep those lovehy plains,
Rise ; fellow-men ! our country yet remains !
By that dread name, we wave the sword on high !
And swear for her to live !—with her to die !
He said, and on the rampart-heights arrayed
His trusty warriors, few ; but undismayed;
Firm-paced and slow ; a horrid front they form,
Still as the breeze ; but dreadful as the storm ;
Low murmuring sounds along their banners fly,
Revenge, or death,—the watchword and reply ;
Then pealed the notes, omnipotent to charm ;
And the loud tocsin tolled their last alarm !—
In vain ; alas ! in vain, ye gallant few !
From rank to rank your volleyed thunder flew;—
Oh, bloodiest picture in the book of Time,
Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a cnme ;
Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe,
Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her woe !
Dropped from her nerveless grasp the shattered spear,
Closed her bright eye, and curbed her high career;--
Hope; for a season, bade the world farewell,
And Freedom shrieked—as Kosciusxo fell !
The sun went down, nor ceased the carnage there ;
Tumultuous Murder shook the midnight air—
On Prague's proud arch the fires of ruin glow,
His blood-dyed waters murmuring far below ;
The storm prevails, the rampart yields a way,
Bursts the wild cry of horror and dismay !
Hark ; as the smouldering piles with thunder fall,
A thousand shrieks for hopeless mercy call !
Earth shook-red meteors flashed along the sky,
And conscious Nature shuddered at the cry !
Oh ! righteous Heaven ; ere Freedom found a grave,
Why slept the sword, omnipotent to save ?
Where was thine arm, O Vengeance ! where thy rod,
That smote the foes of Zion and of God ;
That crushed proud Ammon, when his iron ear
Was yoked in wrath, and thundered from afar ?
Where was the storm that slumbered till the host
Of blood stained Pharaoh left thcir trembling coast ;
Then bade the deep in wild commotion flow,
And heaved an ocean on their march below ?
Departed spirits of the mighty dead !
Ye that at Marathon and Leuctra bled !
Friends of the world ! restore your swords to man,
Fight in his sacred cause, and lead the van !
Yet for Sarmatia's tears of blood atone,
And make her arm puissant as your own !
Oh ! once again to Freedom's cause return
The patriot Tell—the Bruce of Bannockburn!
Yes ! thy proud lords, unpitied land ! shall see
That man bath yet a soul—and dare be free !
A little while, along thy saddening plains,
This starless night of Desolation reigns ;
Truth shall restore the light by Nature given,
And, like Prometheus, bring the fire of Heaven !
Prone to the dust Oppression shall be hurled,
Her name her nature, withered from the world !
Ye that the rising morn invidious mark,
And hate the light—because your deeds are dark
Ye that expanding truth invidious view,
And think, or wish, the song of Hope untrue ;
Perhaps your little hands presume to span
The march of Genius and the powers of man ;
Perhaps ye watch, at Pride's unhallowed shrine,
Her victims, newly slain, and thus divine :—
“ Here shall tiny triumph, Genius, cease, and here
Truth, Science, Virtue, close your short career.”
Tyrants ! in vain ye trace the wizard ring ;
In vain ye limit Mind's unwearied spring:
What ! can ye lull the winged winds asleep,
Arrest the rolling world, or chain the deep ?
No !—the wild wave contemns your sceptred hand :
It rolled not back when Canute gave command !
Man ! can thy doom no brighter soul allow ?
Still must thou live a blot on Nature's brow ?
Shall war's polluted banner ne'er be furled ?
Shall crimes and tyrants cease but with the world ?
What ! are thou triumphs, sacred Truth, belied ?
Why then hath Plato lived—or Sidney died ?
Ye fond adorers of departed fame,
Who warm at Scipio's worth, or Tully's name !
Ye that, in fancied vision, can admire
The sword of Brutus, and the Theban lyre !
Rapt in historic ardor, who adore
Each classic haunt, and well remembered shore,
Where Valor tuned, amidst her chosen throng,
The Thiracian trumpet, and the Spartan song ;
Or, wandering thence, behold the later charms
Of England's glory, and Helvetia's arms !
See Roman fire in Hampden's bosom swell,
And fate and freedom in the shaft of Tell !
Say, ye fond zealots to the worth of yore,
Hath Valor left the world—to live no more ?
No more shall Brutus bid a tyrant die,
And sternly smile with vengeance in his eye ?
Hampden no more, when suffering Freedom calls,
Encounter Fate, and triumph as he falls ?
Nor Tell disclose, through peril and alarm,
The might that slumbers in a peasant's arm ?
Yes ! in that generous cause, for ever strong,
The patriot's virtue and the poet's song,
Still, as the tide of ages rolls away,
Shall charm the world, unconscious of decay.
Yes ! there are hearts, prophetic Hope may trust,
That slumber yet in uncreated dust,
Ordained to fire th' adoring sons of earth,
With every charm of wisdom and of worth ;
Ordained to light, with intellectual day,
The mazy wheels of nature as they play,
Or, warm with Fancy's energy, to glow
And rival all but Shakspeare's name below.
And say, supernal Powers who deeply scan
Heaven's dark decrees, unfathomed yet by man,
When shall the world call down, to cleanse her shame,
That embryo spirit, yet without a name—
That friend of Nature, whose avenging hands
Shall burst the Libyan's adamantine bands ?
Who, sternly marking on his native soil
The blood,the tears, the anguish, and the toil,
Shall bid each righteous heart exult, to see
Peace to the slave, and vengeance on the free !
Yet, yet, degraded men ! th' expected day
That breaks your bitter cup, is far away ;
Trade, wealth, and fashion, ask you still to bleed,
And holy men give Scripture for the deed .
Scourged, and debased, no Briton stoops to save
A wretch, a coward ; yes, because a slave !—
Eternal Nature when thy giant hand
Had heaved the floods, and fixed the trembling land,
When life sprang startling at thy plastic call,
Endless her forms, auiol man the lord of all !
Say, was that lordly form inspired by thee,
To wear eternal chains and bow the knee ?
Was man ordained the slave of man to toil,
Yoked with the brutes, and fettered to the soil .
Weighed in a tyrant's balance witli his gold ?
No !—Nature stamped us in a heavenly mould !
She bade no wretch his thankless labor urge,
Nor, trembling, take the pittance and the scourge !
No homeless Libyan, on the stormy deep,
To call upon his country's name, and weep !—
Lo ! once in triumph, on his boundless plain,
The quivered chief of Congo loved to reign ;
With fires proportioned to his native sky,
Strength in his arm, and lightning in his eye ;
Scoured with wild feet his sun illumined zone,
The spear, the lion, and the woods, his own !
Or led the combat, bold without a plan,
An artless savage, but a fearless man !
The plunderer came !—alas ! no glory smiles
For Congo's chief, on yonder Indian Isles ;
Forever fallen ! no son of Nature now,
With Freedom chartered on his manly I brow !
Faint, bleeding, bound, he weeps the night away,
And when the sea-wind wafts the dewless daiy,
Starts, with a bursting heart ; for evermore
To curse the sun that lights their guilty shore !
The shrill horn blew ; at that alarum knell
His guardian angel took a last farewell !
That funeral dirge to darkness hath resigned
The fiery grandeur of a generous mind !
Poor fettered man ! I bear thee whispering how
Unhallowed vows to Guilt, the child of Woe,
Friendless thy heart ; and canst thou harbor there
A wish but death—a passion but despair ?
The widowed Indian, when her lord expires,
Mounts the dread pile, and braves thie funeral fires.
So falls the heart at Thraldom's bitter sigh!
So Virtue dies, the spouse of Liberty !
But not to Libya's barren climes alone,
To Chili, or the wild Siberian zone,
Belong the wretched heart and haggard eye,
Degraded worth, and poor misfortune's sigh !
Ye orient realms, where Ganges' waters run !
Prolific fields ! dominions of the sun !
How long your tribes have trembled and obeyed !
How long was Timour's iron sceptre swayed,
Whouse marshalled hosts, the lions of the plain,
From Scythia's northern mountains to the main,
Raged o'er your plundered shrines and altars bare,
With blazing torch and gory scymetar,—
Stunned with the cries of death each gentle gale
And bathed in blood the verdure of the vale !
Yet could no pangs the immortal spirit tame,
When Brama's children perished for his name ;
The martyrsm led beneath avenging power,
And braved the tyrant in his torturing hour !
When Europe sought your subject realms to gain,
And stretched her giant sceptre o'er the main,
Taught her proud barks the winding way to shape,
And braved the stormy Spirit of the Cape ;
Children of Brama ! then was Mercy nigh
To wash the stain of blood's eternal dye ?
Did Peace descend, to triumph and to save,
When freeborn Britons crossed the Indian wave ?
Ah, no !—to more than Rome's ambition true,
The Nurse of Freedom gave it not to you !
She the bold route of Europe's guilt began,
And, in the march of nations, led the van !
Rich in the gems of India's gaudy zone,
And plunder piled from kingdoms not their own,
Degenerate trade ! thy minions could despise
The heart-born anguish of a thousand cries ;
Could lock, with impious hands, their store,
While famished nations died along the shore:
Could mock the groans of felhow-men, and bear
The curse of kingdoms peopled with despair ;
Could stamp disgrace on man's polluted name,
And barter, with their gold, eternal shame !
But hark ! as bowed to earth the Bramin kneels
From heavenly climes propitious thunder peals !
Of India's fate her guardian spirits tell,
Prophetic murmurs breathing on the shell
And solemn sound that awe the listening mind
Roll on the azure paths of every wind.
“ Foes of mankind ! (her guardian spirits say;)
Revolving ages bring the bitter day,
When Heaven's unerring arm shall fall on you,
And blood for blood these Indian plains bedew ;
Nine times have Brama's wheels of lightning hurled
His awful presence o'er the alarmed world ;
Nine times hath Guilt, through all his giant frame,
Convulsive trembled , as the Mighty came;
Nine times hath suffering Mercy spared in vain—
But Heaven shall burst her starry gates again !
He comes ! dread Brama shakes the sunless sky
With murmuring wrath , and thunders from on high,
Heaven's fiery horse, beneath his warrior form,
Paws the light clouds, and gallops on the storm !
Wide waves his flickering sword ; his bright arms glow
Like summer suns and light the world below !
Earth, and her trembling isles in Ocean's bed,
Are shook ; and Nature rocks beneath his tread !
"To pour redress on India's injured realm,
The oppressor to dethrone ; the proud to whelm ;
To chase destruction from her plundered shore
With arts and arms that triumphed once before,
The tenth Avatar comes ! at Heaven's command
Shall Seriswatte wave her hallowed wand !
And Camdeo bright, and Ganesa sublime ,
Shall bless with joy their own propitious clime !—
Come, Heavenly Powers ! primeval peace restore !
Love !—Mercy !—Wisdom !—rule for evermore!"
In joyous youth, what soul hath never known
Thought, feeling, taste, harmonious to its own?
Who hath not paused while Beauty's pensive eye
Asked from his heart the homage of a sigh?
Who hath not own'd, with rapture-smitten frame,
The power of grace, the magic of a name?
There be, perhaps, who barren hearts avow,
Cold as the rocks on Torneo's hoary brow;
There be, whose loveless wisdom never failed,
In self-adoring pride securely mail'd;—
But, triumph not, ye peace-enamour'd few!
Fire, Nature, Genius, never dwelt with you!
For you no fancy consecrates the scene
Where rapture utter'd vows, and wept between;
'Tis yours, unmov'd, to sever and to meet;
No pledge is sacred, and no home is sweet!
Who that would ask a heart to dullness wed,
The waveless calm, the slumber of the dead?
No; the wild bliss of Nature needs alloy,
And fear and sorrow fan the fire of joy!
And say, without our hopes, without our fears,
Without the home that plighted love endears,
Without the smile from partial beauty won,
Oh! what were man? — a world without a sun!
Till Hymen brought his love-delighted hour,
There dwelt no joy in Eden's rosy bow'r!
In vain the viewless seraph, ling'ring there,
At starry midnight, charm'd the silent air;
In vain the wild bird carol'd on the steep,
To hail the sun, slow wheeling from the deep;
In vain, to soothe the solitary shade,
Aerial notes in mingling measure play'd—
The summer wind that shook the spangled tree,
The whispering wave, the murmur of the bee—
Still slowly pass'd the melancholy day,
And still the stranger wist not where to stray,—
The world was sad! — the garden was a wild!—
And Man, the hermit, sigh'd—till Woman smil'd!
True! the sad power to generous hearts may bring
Delirious anguish on his fiery wing!
Barr'd from delight by Fate's untimely hand,
By wealthless lot, or pitiless command;
Or doomd to gaze on beauties that adorn
The smile of triumph or the frown of scorn;
While Memory watches o'er the sad review,
Of joys that faded like the morning dew.
Peace may depart — and life and nature seem
A barren path — a wildness, and a dream!
But, can the noble mind for ever brood,
The willing victim of a weary mood,
On heartless cares that squander life away,
And cloud young Genius bright'ning into day?
Shame to the coward thought that e'er betray'd
The noon of manhood to a myrtle shade!—
If Hope's creative spirit cannot raise
One trophy sacred to thy future days,
Scorn the dull crowd that haunt the gloomy shrine
Of hopeless love to murmur and repine!
But, should a sigh of milder mood express
Thy heart-warm wishes true to happiness;
Should Heav'n's fair harbinger delight to pour
Her blissful visions on thy pensive hour,
No tear to blot thy memory's pictur'd page,
No fears but such as Fancy can assuage;
Though thy wild heart some hapless hour may miss
The peaceful tenor of unvaried bliss,
(For love pursues an ever devious race,
True to the winding lineaments of grace);
Yet still may Hope her talisman employ
To snatch from Heaven anticipated joy,
And all her kindred energies impart
That burn the brightest in the purest heart!
When first the Rhodian's mimic art array'd
The queen of Beauty in her Cyprian shade,
The happy master mingled on his piece
Each look that charm'd him in the fair of Greece;
To faultless Nature true, he stole a grace
From every finer form and sweeter face;
And, as he sojourn'd on the Aegean isles,
Woo'd all their love, and treasur'd all their smiles;
Then glow'd the tints, pure, precious, and refin'd,
And mortal charms seem'd heav'nly when combin'd!
Love on the picture smiled! Expression pour'd
Her mingling spirit there — and Greece ador'd!
So thy fair hand, enamour'd Fancy! gleans
The treasur'd pictures of a thousand scenes!
Thy pencil traces on the Lover's thought
Some cottage-home, from towns and toil remote,
Where Love and Lore may claim alternate hours,
With Peace embosom'd in Idalian bow'rs!
Remote from busy Life's bewilder'd way,
O'er all his heart shall Taste and Beauty sway!
Free on the sunny slope, or winding shore,
With hermit steps to wander and adore!
There shall he love, when genial morn appears,
Like pensive Beauty smiling in her tears,
To watch the bright'ning roses of the sky,
And muse on Nature with a poet's eye!—
And, when the sun's last splendour lights the deep,
The woods and waves, and murm'ring winds asleep;
When fairy harps th' Hesperian planet hail,
And the lone cuckoo sighs along the vale,
His path shall be where streamy mountains swell
Their shadowy grandeur o'er the narrow dell,
Where mouldering piles and forests intervene,
Mingling with darker tints the living green;
No circling hills his ravish'd eye to bound,
Heav'n, Earth, and Ocean, blazing all around!
The moon is up — the watch-tower dimly burns—
And down the vale his sober step returns;
But pauses oft, as winding rocks convey
The still sweet fall of Music far away;
And oft he lingers from his home awhile
To watch the dying notes! — and start, and smile!
Let Winter come! let polar spirits sweep
The dark'ning world and tempest-troubled deep!
Though boundless snows the wither'd heath deform,
And the dim sun scarce wanders through the storm,
Yet shall the smile of social love repay
With mental light, the melancholy day!
And, when its short and sullen noon is o'er,
The ice-chain'd waters slumbering on the shore,
How bright the faggots in his little hall
Blaze on the hearth, and warm the pictur'd wall!
How blest he names, in Love's familiar tone,
The kind fair friend, by Nature mark'd his own;
And, in the waveless mirror of his mind,
Views the fleet years of pleasure left behind,
Since Anna's empire o'er his heart began!
Since first he call'd her his before the holy man!
Trim the gay taper in his rustic dome,
And light the wint'ry paradise of home;
And let the half-uncurtain'd window hail
Some way-worn man benighted in the vale!
Now, while the moaning night-wind rages high,
As sweep the shot-stars down the troubled sky,
While fiery hosts in Heaven's wide circle play,
And bathe in lurid light the milky-way,
Safe from the storm, the meteor, and the shower,
Some pleasing page shall charm the solemn hour—
With pathos shall command, and wit beguile,
A generous tear of anguish, or a smile—
Thy woes, Arion! and thy simple tale,
O'er all the heart shall triumph and prevail!
Charm'd as they read the verse too sadly true,
How gallant Albert, and his weary crew,
Heav'd all their guns, their foundering bark to save,
And toil'd — and shriek'd — and perish'd on the wave!
Yes, at the dead of night, by Lonna's steep,
The seaman's cry was heard along the deep;
There, on his funeral waters, dark and wild,
The dying father blest his darling child!
Oh! Mercy, shield her innocence, he cried,
Spent on the prayer his bursting heart, and died!
Or they will learn how generous worth sublimes
The robber Moor, and pleads for all his crimes!
How poor Amelia kiss'd, with many a tear,
His hand bloodstain'd, but ever, ever dear!
Hung on the tortur'd bosom of her lord,
And wept, and pray'd perdition from his sword!
Nor sought in vain! at that heart-piercing cry
The strings of nature crack'd with agony!
He, with delirious laugh, the dagger hurl'd,
And burst the ties that bound him to the world!
Turn from his dying words, that smite with steel
The shuddering thoughts, or wind them on the wheel—
Turn to the gentler melodies that suit
Thalia's harp, or Pan's Arcadian lute;
Or, down the stream of Truth's historic page
From clime to clime descend, from age to age!
Yet there, perhaps, may darker scenes obtrude
Than Fancy fashions in her wildest mood;
There shall he pause with horrent brow, to rate
What millions died—that Caesar might be great!
Or learn the fate that bleeding thousands bore,
March'd by their Charles to Dneiper's swampy shore;
Faint in his wounds, and shivering in the blast,
The Swedish soldier sunk — and groan'd his last!
File after file, the stormy showers benumb,
Freeze every standard-sheet, and hush the drum!
Horseman and horse confess'd the bitter pang,
And arms and warriors fell with hollow clang!
Yet, ere he sunk in Nature's last repose,
Ere life's warm torrent to the fountain froze,
The dying man to Sweden turn'd his eye,
Thought of his home, and closed it with a sigh!
Imperial Pride look'd sullen on his plight,
And Charles beheld — nor shudder'd at the sight!
Oh! vainly wise, the moral Muse hath sung
That suasive Hope hath but a Syren tongue!
True; she may sport with life's untutored day,
Nor heed the solace of its last decay,
The guileless heart her happy mansion spurn,
And part like Ajut — never to return!
But yet, methinks, when Wisdom shall assuage
The griefs and passions of our greener age,
Though dull the close of life, and far away
Each flow'r that hailed the dawning of the day;
Yet o'er her lovely hopes, that once were dear,
The time-taught spirit, pensive, not severe,
With milder griefs her aged eye shall fill,
And weep their falsehood, though she love them still!
Thus, with forgiving tears, and reconcil'd,
The king of Judah mourn'd his rebel child!
Musing on days, when yet the guiltless boy
Smil'd on his sire, and fill'd his heart with joy!
My Absalom! the voice of Nature cried!
Oh! that for thee thy father could have died!
For bloody was the deed, and rashly done,
That slew my Absalom! — my son! — my son!
Unfading Hope! when life's last embers burn,
When soul to soul, and dust to dust return!
Heav'n to thy charge resigns the awful hour!
Oh! then thy kingdom comes! immortal Power!
What though each spark of earth-born rapture fly
The quivering lip, pale cheek, and closing eye!
Bright to the soul thy seraph hands convey
The morning dream of life's eternal day—
Then, then, the triumph and the trance begin,
And all the Phoenix spirit burns within!
Cease, every joy, to glimmer on my mind,
But leave — oh! leave the light of Hope behind!
What though my winged hours of bliss have been,
Like angel-visits, few and far between;
Her musing mood shall every pang appease,
And charm — when pleasures lose the pow'r to please!
Yes! let each rapture, dear to Nature, flee;
Close not the light of Fortune's stormy sea—
Mirth, music, friendship, Love's propitious smile,
Chase every care, and charm a little while,
Ecstatic throbs the fluttering heart employ,
And all her strings are harmoniz'd to Joy!—
But why so short is Love's delighted hour?
Why fades the dew on Beauty's sweetest flow'r?
Why can no hymned charm of music heal
The sleepless woes impassioned spirits feel?
Can Fancy's fairy hands no veil create,
To hide the sad realities of fate?—
No! not the quaint remark, the sapient rule,
Nor all the pride of Wisdom's worldly school
Have pow'r to soothe, unaided and alone,
The heart that vibrates to a feeling tone!
When stepdame Nature every bliss recalls,
Fleet as the meteor o'er the desert falls;
When, reft of all, yon widow'd sire appears
A lonely hermit in the vale of years;
Say, can the world one joyous thought bestow
To Friendship, weeping at the couch of Woe?
No! but a brighter soothes the last adieu,—
Souls of impassion'd mould, she speaks to you!
Weep not, she says, at Nature's transient pain;
Congenial spirits part to meet again!
What plaintive sobs thy filial spirit drew,
What sorrow chok'd thy long and last adieu!
Daughter of Conrad! when he heard his knell,
And bade his country and his child farewell!
Doom'd the long isles of Sydney Cove to see,
The martyr of his crimes, but true to thee.
Thrice the sad father tore thee from his heart,
And thrice return'd to bless thee, and to part;
Thrice from his trembling lips he murmur'd low
The plaint that own'd unutterable woe;
Till Faith, prevailing o'er his sullen doom,
As bursts the morn on night's unfathom'd gloom,
Lur'd his dim eye to deathless hopes sublime,
Beyond the realms of Nature and of Time!
"And weep not thus," he cried, "young Ellenore;
My bosom bleeds, but soon shall bleed no more!
Short shall this half-extinguished spirit burn,
And soon these limbs to kindred dust return!
But not, my child, with life's precarious fire,
The immortal ties of Nature shall expire;
These shall resist the triumph of decay,
When time is o'er, and worlds have pass'd away;
Cold in the dust this perish'd heart may lie,
But that which warm'd it once shall never die!
That spark unburied in its mortal frame,
With living light, eternal, and the same,
Shall beam on Joy's interminable years,
Unveil'd by darkness — unassuag'd by tears!
"Yet, on the barren shore and stormy deep,
One tedious watch is Conrad doom'd to weep;
But when I gain the home without a friend,
And press the uneasy couch where none attend,
This last embrace, still cherished in my heart,
Shall calm the struggling spirit ere it part!
Thy darling form shall seem to hover nigh,
And hush the groan of life's last agony!
"Farewell! when strangers lift thy father's bier,
And place my nameless stone without a tear;
When each returning pledge hath told my child
That Conrad's tomb is on the desert pil'd;
And when the dream of troubled Fancy sees
Its lonely rank-grass waving in the breeze;
Who then will soothe thy grief, when mine is o'er?
Who will protect thee, helpless Ellenore?
Shall secret scenes thy filial sorrows hide,
Scorn'd by the world, to factious guilt allied?
Ah! no! methinks the generous and the good
Will woo thee from the shades of solitude!
O'er friendless grief compassion shall awake,
And smile on Innocence, for Mercy's sake!"
Inspiring thought of rapture yet to be,
The tears of love were hopeless, but for thee!
If in that frame no deathless spirit dwell,
If that faint murmur be the last farewell;
If fate unite the faithful but to part,
Why is their memory sacred to the heart?
Why does the brother of my childhood seem
Restored awhile in every pleasing dream?
Why do I joy the lonely spot to view,
By artless friendship blessed when life was new?
Eternal Hope! when yonder spheres sublime
Peal'd their first notes to sound the march of Time,
Thy joyous youth began — but not to fade.—
When all the sister planets have decay'd,
When wrapt in fire the realms of ether glow,
And Heaven's last thunder shakes the world below,
Thou, undismay'd, shalt o'er the ruin smile,
And light thy torch at Nature's funeral pile!
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.