ODE TO LIBERTY.
1 WHO shall awake the Spartan fife,
2 And call in solemn sounds to life
3 The youths, whose locks divinely spreading,
4 Like vernal hyacinths in sullen hue,[Page 25]
5 At once the breath of fear and virtue shedding,
6 Applauding Freedom lov'd of old to view?
7 What new Alcaeush
h Alluding to a beautiful fragment of Alcaeus; fancy-blest,
8 Shall sing the sword in myrtles drest,
9 At Wisdom's shrine awhile its flame concealing,
10 (What place so fit to seal a deed renown'd?)
11 Till she her brightest lightnings round revealing,
12 It leap'd in glory forth, and dealt her prompted wound!
13 O Goddess, in that feeling hour,
14 When most its sounds would court thy ears,
15 Let not my shell's misguided power
16 E'er draw thy sad, thy mindful tears.
17 No, Freedom, no, I will not tell,
18 How Rome, before thy weeping face,
19 With heaviest sound, a giant-statue, fell,
20 Push'd by a wild and artless race
21 From off its wide ambitious base,
22 When Time his northern sons of spoil awoke,
23 And all the blended work of strength and grace,
24 With many a rude repeated stroke,
25 And many a barbarous yell, to thousand fragments broke.
26 Yet even, where'er the least appear'd,
27 Th' admiring world thy hand rever'd;[Page 26]
28 Still, 'midst the scatter'd states around,
29 Some remnants of her strength were found;
30 They saw, by what escap'd the storm,
31 How wonderous rose her perfect form;
32 How in the great, the labour'd whole,
33 Each mighty master pour'd his soul!
34 For sunny Florence, seat of art,
35 Beneath her vines preserv'd a part,
36 Till theyi
i The family of the Medici., whom Science lov'd to name,
37 (O who could fear it i) quench'd her flame.
38 And lo, an humbler relic laid
39 In jealous Pisa's olive shade!
40 See small Marinok
k The little republic of San Marino. joins the theme,
41 Tho' least, not last in thy esteem:
42 Strike, louder strike th' ennobling strings
43 To thosel
l The Venetians., whose merchant sons were kings;
44 To himm
m The Doge of Venice., who, deck'd with pearly pride,
45 In Adria weds his green-hair'd bride.
46 Hail port of glory, wealth, and pleasure,
47 Ne'er let me change this Lydian measure:
48 Nor e'er her former pride relate,
49 To sad Liguria'sn[Page 27]
n Genoa. bleeding state.
50 Ah no! more pleas'd thy haunts I seek,
51 On wild Helvetia'so
o Switzerland. mountains bleak:
52 (Where, when the favour'd of thy choice,
53 The daring archer heard thy voice;
54 Forth from his eyrie rous'd in dread,
55 The ravening eagle northward fled.)
56 Or dwell in willow'd meads more near.
57 With thosep
p The Dutch, among whom there are very severe penalties for those who are convicted of killing this bird. They are kept tame in almost all their towns, and particularly at the Hague, of the arms of which they make a part. The common people of Holland are said to entertain a superstitious sentiment, that if the whole species of them shou'd become extinct, they should lose their liberties. to whom thy stork is dear:
58 Those whom the rod of Alva bruis'd,
59 Whose crown a British queenq
q Queen Elizabeth. refus'd!
60 The magic works, thou feel'st the strains,
61 One holier name alone remains;
62 The perfect spell shall then avail,
63 Hail nymph, ador'd by Britain, hail!
64 Beyond, the measure vast of thought,
65 The works, the wizzard Time has wrought! [Page 28]
66 The Gaul, 'tis held of antique story,
67 Saw Britain link'd to his now adverse strandr
r This tradition is mentioned by several of our old historians. Some naturalists too have endeavoured to support the probability of the fact, by arguments drawn from the correspondent disposition of the two opposite coasts. I do not remember that any poetical use has been hitherto made of it.,
68 No sea between, nor cliff sublime and hoary,
69 He pass'd with unwet feet thro' all our land.
70 To the blown Baltic then, they say,
71 The wild waves found another way,
72 Where Orcas howls, his wolfish mountains rounding;
73 Till all the banded West at once 'gan rise,
74 A wide wild storm even Nature's self confounding,
75 Withering her giant sons with strange uncouth surprise.
76 This pillar'd earth so firm and wide,
77 By winds and inward labours torn,
78 In thunders dread was push'd aside,
79 And down the should'ring billows born.
80 And see, like gems her laughing train,
81 The little isles on every side,
s There is a tradition in the isle of Man, that a mermaid becoming enamoured of a young man of extraordinary beauty, took an opportunity of meeting him one day as he walked on the shore, and opened her passion to him, but was received with a coldness, occasioned by his horror and surprise at her appearance. This however was so misconstrued by the sealady, that in revenge for his treatment of her, she punish'd the whole island, by covering it with a mist, so that all who attempted to carry on any commerce with it, either never arrived at it, but wandered up and down the sea, or were on a sudden wrecked upon its cliffs., once hid from those who search the main,
83 Where thousand elsin shapes abide,[Page 29]
84 And Wight who checks the westering tide,
85 For thee consenting heaven has each bestow'd,
86 A fair attendant on her sovereign pride:
87 To thee this blest divorce she ow'd,
88 For thou hast made her vales thy lov'd, thy last abode!
89 Then too, 'tis said, an hoary pile,
90 'Midst the green navel of our isle,
91 Thy shrine in some religious wood,
92 O soul-enforcing goddess, stood!
93 There oft the painted native's feet
94 Were wont thy form celestial meet:
95 Tho' now with hopeless toil we trace
96 Time's backward rolls, to find its place;
97 Whether the fiery-tressed Dane,
98 Or Roman's self o'erturn'd the fane,
99 Or in what heaven-left age it fell,
100 'Twere hard for modern song to tell.
101 Yet still, if Truth those beams infuse,
102 Which guide at once, and charm the Muse,
103 Beyond yon braided clouds that lie,
104 Paving the light-embroider'd sky:
105 Amidst the Bright pavillion'd plains,
106 The beauteous model still remains. [Page 30]
107 There happier than in islands blest,
108 Or bowers by Spring or Hebe drest,
109 The chiefs who fill our Albion's story,
110 In warlike weeds, retir'd in glory,
111 Hear their consorted Druids sing
112 Their triumphs to th' immortal string.
113 How may the poet now unfold,
114 What never tongue or numbers told?
115 How learn delighted, and amaz'd,
116 What hands unknown that fabric rais'd!
117 Even now, before his favour'd eyes,
118 In Gothic pride it seems to rise!
119 Yet Graecia's graceful orders join,
120 Majestic thro' the mix'd design;
121 The secret builder knew to chuse,
122 Each sphere-found gem of richest hues:
123 Whate'er heaven's purer mould contains,
124 When nearer suns emblaze its veins;
125 There on the walls the patriot's sight
126 May ever hang with fresh delight,
127 And, grav'd with some prophetic rage,
128 Read Albion's same thro' every age.
129 Ye forms divine, ye laureat band,
130 That near her inmost altar stand!
131 Now sooth her, to her blisssul train
132 Blythe Concord's social form to gain:
133 Concord, whose myrtle wand can steep
134 Even Anger's blood-shot eyes in sleep:[Page 31]
135 Before whose breathing bosom's balm,
136 Rage drops his steel, and storms grow calm;
137 Her let our sires and matrons hoar
138 Welcome to Britain's ravag'd shore,
139 Our youths, enamour'd of the fair,
140 Play with the tangles of her hair,
141 Till, in one loud applauding found,
142 The nations shout to her around,
143 O how supremely art thou blest,
144 Thou, Lady, thou shalt rule the west!