1 "DREAR cell! along whose lonely bounds,
2 Unvisited by light,
3 Chill silence dwells with night,
4 Save where the clanging fetter sounds!
5 Abyss, where mercy never came,
6 Nor hope the wretch can find;
7 Where long inaction wastes the frame,
8 And half annihilates the mind!
9 "Stretch'd helpless in this living tomb,
10 O haste, congenial death!
11 Seize, seize this ling'ring breath,
12 And shroud me in unconscious gloom.
13 BRITAIN! thy exil'd son no more
14 Thy blissful vales shall see —
15 Why did I leave thy hallow'd shore,
16 Ah, land ador'd, where all are free?"
17 BASTILLE! within thy hideous pile,
18 Which stains of blood defile,
19 Thus rose the captive's sighs,
20 Till slumber seal'd his weeping eyes.
21 Terrific visions hover near!
22 He sees an awful form appear!
23 Who drags his step to deeper cells,
24 Where stranger, wilder horror dwells!
25 "O! tear me from these haunted walls,
26 Or these fierce shapes controul!
27 Lest madness seize my soul!
28 That pond'rous mask of iron*
* Alluding to the prisoner who has excited so many conjectures in Europe.falls,
29 I see—" "Rash mortal, ha! beware,
30 Nor breathe that hidden name!
31 Should those dire accents wound the air,
32 Know death shall lock thy stiff'ning frame.
33 "Hark! that loud bell which sullen tolls!
34 It wakes a shriek of woe
35 From yawning depths below;
36 Shrill through this hollow vault it rolls!
37 A deed was done in this black cell
38 Unfit for mortal ear —
39 A deed was done when toll'd that knell,
40 No human heart could live and hear!
41 "Arouse thee from thy numbing glance,
42 Near yon thick gloom, advance;
43 The solid cloud has shook;
44 Arm all thy soul with strength to look —
45 Enough! — thy starting locks have rose —
46 Thy limbs have fail'd — thy blood has froze! —
47 On scenes so foul, with mad affright,
48 I fix no more thy fasten'd sight.
49 "Those troubled phantoms melt away!
50 I lose the sense of care —
51 I feel the vital air —
52 I see — I see the light of day!
53 Visions of bliss! — eternal powers!
54 What force has shook those hated walls?
55 What arm has rent those threat'ning towers?
56 It falls — the guilty fabric falls!"
57 "Now, favour'd mortal, now behold!
58 To soothe thy captive state
59 I ope the book of fate;
60 Mark what its registers unfold:
61 Where this dark pile in chaos lies,
62 With nature's execrations hurl'd,
63 Shall Freedom's sacred temple rise,
64 And charm an emulating world!
65 "'Tis her awak'ning voice commands
66 Those firm, those patriot bands;
67 Arm'd to avenge her cause,
68 And guard her violated laws! —
69 Did ever earth a scene display
70 More glorious to the eye of day,
71 Than millions with according mind,
72 Who claim the rights of human kind?
73 "Does the fam'd Roman page sublime
74 An hour more bright unroll,
75 To animate the soul,
76 Than this lov'd theme of future time? —
77 Posterity, with rapture meet,
78 The consecrated act shall hear;
79 Age shall the glowing tale repeat,
80 And youth shall drop the burning tear!
81 "The peasant, while he fondly sees
82 His infants round the hearth
83 Pursue their simple mirth,
84 Or emulously climb his knees,
85 No more bewails their future lot,
86 By tyranny's stern rod opprest;
87 While freedom cheers his straw-roof'd cot,
88 And tells him all his toils are blest!
89 "Philosophy! O, share the meed
90 Of freedom's noblest deed!
91 'Tis thine each truth to scan,
92 And dignify the rank of man!
93 'Tis thine all human wrongs to heal,
94 'Tis thine to love all nature's weal;
95 To give our frail existence worth,
96 And shed a ray from heaven on earth."
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About this text
Author: Helen Maria Williams
Themes: violence; liberty; prison; imprisonment; visions; fighting; conflict
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Williams, Helen Maria, 1759-1827. Poems on various subjects: with introductory remarks on the present state of science and literature in France. London: G. and W. B. Whittaker, 1823, pp. -91. (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [8º W 229 BS].)
Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.
Other works by Helen Maria Williams
- AN ADDRESS TO POETRY. ()
- AN AMERICAN TALE. ()
- THE CHARTER; ADDRESSED TO MY NEPHEW ATHANASE C. L. COQUEREL, ON HIS WEDDING DAY, 1819. ()
- THE COMPLAINT OF THE GODDESS OF THE GLACIERS TO DOCTOR DARWIN. ()
- DULCE DOMUM, AN OLD LATIN ODE. ()
- DUNCAN, AN ODE. ()
- EDWIN AND ELTRADA, A LEGENDARY TALE. (); EDWIN AND ELTRUDA. ()
- ELEGY ON A YOUNG THRUSH, WHICH ESCAPED FROM THE WRITER'S HAND, AND FALLING DOWN THE AREA OF A HOUSE, COULD NOT BE FOUND. ()
- EUPHELIA, AN ELEGY. ()
- HYMN, IMITATED FROM THE FRENCH. ()
- HYMN, WRITTEN AMONG THE ALPS. ()
- A HYMN. ()
- IMITATION OF LINES ADDRESSED BY M. D—, A YOUNG MAN OF TWENTY-FOUR YEARS OF AGE, THE NIGHT BEFORE HIS EXECUTION, TO A YOUNG LADY TO WHOM HE WAS ENGAGED. — 1794. ()
- IMITATION OF LINES WRITTEN BY ROUCHER, BELOW HIS PICTURE, WHICH A FELLOW-PRISONER HAD DRAWN, AND WHICH HE SENT TO HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN THE DAY BEFORE HIS EXECUTION. — 1794. ()
- LINES ADDRESSED TO A. C., AN INFANT, ON HIS FIRST NEW-YEAR'S DAY, 1821. ()
- LINES ON THE TOMB OF A FAVOURITE DOG. ()
- LINES TO HELEN, A NEW-BORN INFANT, 1821. ()
- LINES WRITTEN IN THE ALBUM OF THE BARONESS D' H——, TO HER TWO DAUGHTERS. ()
- LINES WRITTEN ON THE PILLAR ERECTING TO THE MEMORY OF MR. BARLOW, Minister of the United States at Paris, WHO DIED AT NAROWITCH IN POLAND, ON HIS RETURN FROM WILNA, DEC. 26, 1812. ()
- THE LINNET AND THE CAT. ()
- THE MORAI. ()
- ODE TO PEACE. ()
- ON THE BILL WHICH WAS PASSED IN ENGLAND FOR REGULATING THE SLAVE-TRADE; A SHORT TIME BEFORE ITS ABOLITION. ()
- PARAPHRASE. ()
- PARAPHRASE. ()
- PARAPHRASE. ()
- PARAPHRASE. ()
- PART OF AN IRREGULAR FRAGMENT. ()
- PERUVIAN TALES. ()
- QUEEN MARY'S COMPLAINT. ()
- SCOTCH BALLAD. ()
- SONG. ()
- SONG. ()
- SONG. ()
- SONNET ON READING BURNS' “MOUNTAIN DAISY.” ()
- SONNET TO DISAPPOINTMENT. ()
- SONNET TO EXPRESSION. ()
- SONNET TO HOPE. ()
- SONNET TO LOVE. ()
- SONNET TO MRS. BATES. ()
- SONNET TO MRS. SIDDONS. ()
- SONNET TO PEACE OF MIND. ()
- SONNET TO SIMPLICITY. ()
- SONNET TO THE CALBASSIA-TREE. ()
- SONNET TO THE CURLEW. ()
- SONNET TO THE MOON. ()
- SONNET TO THE STRAWBERRY. ()
- SONNET TO THE TORRID ZONE. ()
- SONNET TO THE WHITE-BIRD OF THE TROPIC. ()
- SONNET TO TWILIGHT. ()
- TO A FRIEND, WHO SENT ME FLOWERS, WHEN CONFINED BY ILLNESS. ()
- TO DR. MOORE, IN ANSWER TO A POETICAL EPISTLE WRITTEN TO ME BY HIM IN WALES, SEPTEMBER 1791. ()
- TO JAMES FORBES, ESQ. Author of “The Oriental Memoirs,” WHO ASKED FOR SOME LINES OF MY HAND-WRITING ON LEAVING FRANCE, AFTER HIS CAPTIVITY AT VERDUN. ()
- TO JAMES FORBES, ESQ. ON HIS BRINGING ME FLOWERS FROM VAUCLUSE, AND WHICH HE HAD PRESERVED BY MEANS OF AN INGENIOUS PROCESS IN THEIR ORIGINAL BEAUTY. ()
- TO MRS. K—, ON HER SENDING ME ENGLISH CHRISTMAS PLUMB-CAKE, AT PARIS. ()
- TO SENSIBILITY. ()
- TO THE BARON DE HUMBOLDT, ON HIS BRINGING ME SOME FLOWERS IN MARCH. ()
- THE TRAVELLERS IN HASTE; ADDRESSED TO THOMAS CLARKSON, ESQ. IN 1814, WHEN MANY ENGLISH ARRIVED AT PARIS, BUT REMAINED A VERY SHORT TIME. ()
- VERSES ADDRESSED TO MY TWO NEPHEWS, ON SAINT HELEN'S DAY, 1809. ()