Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland

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Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland
by Andrew Marvell

The forward youth that would appear,
Must now forsake his Muses dear,
      Nor in the shadows sing
      His numbers languishing.

’Tis time to leave the books in dust,
And oil the unused armour’s rust,
      Removing from the wall
      The corslet of the hall.

So restless Cromwell could not cease
In the inglorious arts of peace,
      But through adventurous war
      Urgèd his active star:

And like the three-fork’d lightning, first
Breaking the clouds where it was nurst,
      Did thorough his own side
      His fiery way divide:

For ’tis all one to courage high,
The emulous, or enemy;
      And with such, to enclose
      Is more than to oppose;

Then burning through the air he went
And palaces and temples rent;
      And Cæsar’s head at last
      Did through his laurels blast.

’Tis madness to resist or blame
The face of angry heaven’s flame:
      And if we would speak true,
      Much to the Man is due

Who, from his private gardens, where
He lived reservèd and austere,
      (As if his highest plot
      To plant the bergamot),

Could by industrious valour climb
To ruin the great work of time,
      And cast the Kingdoms old
      Into another mould.

Though Justice against Fate complain,
And plead the ancient Rights in vain—
      But those do hold or break
      As men are strong or weak,

Nature, that hateth emptiness,
Allows of penetration less,
      And therefore must make room
      Where greater spirits come.

What field of all the civil war
Where his were not the deepest scar?
      And Hampton shows what part
      He had of wiser art,

Where, twining subtle fears with hope,
He wove a net of such a scope
      That Charles himself might chase
      To Carisbrook’s narrow case,

That thence the Royal actor borne
The tragic scaffold might adorn:
      While round the armèd bands
      Did clap their bloody hands.

He nothing common did or mean
Upon that memorable scene,
      But with his keener eye
      The axe’s edge did try;

Nor call’d the Gods, with vulgar spite,
To vindicate his helpless right
      But bow’d his comely head
      Down, as upon a bed.

—This was that memorable hour
Which first assured the forcèd power:
      So when they did design
      The Capitol’s first line,

A Bleeding Head, where they begun,
Did fright the architects to run;
      And yet in that the State
      Foresaw its happy fate!

And now the Irish are ashamed
To see themselves in one year tamed:
      So much one man can do
      That does both act and know.

They can affirm his praises best,
And have, though overcome, confest
      How good he is, how just
      And fit for highest trust;

Nor yet grown stiffer with command,
But still in the Republic’s hand—
      How fit he is to sway
      That can so well obey!

He to the Commons’ feet presents
A Kingdom for his first year’s rents,
      And (what he may) forbears
      His fame, to make it theirs:

And has his sword and spoils ungirt
To lay them at the Public’s skirt.
      So when the falcon high
      Falls heavy from the sky,

She, having kill’d, no more does search
But on the next green bough to perch,
      Where, when he first does lure,
      The falconer has her sure.

—What may not then our Isle presume
While victory his crest does plume?
      What may not others fear
      If thus he crowns each year?

As Cæsar he, ere long, to Gaul,
To Italy an Hannibal,
      And to all States not free
      Shall climacteric be.

The Pict no shelter now shall find
Within his parti-colour’d mind,
      But from this valour sad,
      Shrink underneath the plaid—

Happy, if in the tufted brake
The English hunter him mistake,
      Nor lay his hounds in near
      The Caledonian deer.

But Thou, the War’s and Fortune’s son,
March indefatigably on;
      And for the last effect
      Still keep the sword erect:

Besides the force it has to fright
The spirits of the shady night,
      The same arts that did gain
      A power, must it maintain.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.