Charles Mackay

(1814-1889 / Scotland)

An Appeal To Paris


BEAUTIFUL Paris! morning star of nations!
The Lucifer of cities, lifting high
The beacon blaze of young democracy!
Medina and Gomorrha both in one
Medina of a high and holy creed
To be developed in a coming time!
Gomorrha, rampant with all vice and guilt
Luxurious, godless, grovelling, soaring Paris,
Laden with intellect, and yet not wise
Metropolis of satire and lampoon,
Of wit, of elegance, of mirth, of song,
And fearful tragedies done day by day,
Which put our hair on end in the open streets
The busy hive of awful memories,
The potent arbiter of popular will,
The great electric centre whence the shocks
Of pulsing freedom vibrate through tbe world-
Beautiful Paris! sacred to our hearts,
With all thy folly, all thy wickedness-
If but for Bailly, Vergniaud, Gensonne,
And noblest Roland, she of Roman soul,
And the great patriots and friends of man
Who went to death for holy liberty-
Lift up thy voice, O Paris! once again,
And speak the thought that labours in thy breast;
Shake off thy gauds and tinsels-be thyself;
Cease thy lewd jests, and heartless revelries,
Thy adoration of all worthless things,
Thy scorn, thy sarcasm, and thy unbelief;
And in the conflict and the march of men
Do justice to thy nature, and complete
The glorious work, so gloriously begun
By the great souls of pregnant eighty-nine.
Come forth, oh, Paris! freed from vice and stain,
Like a young warrior dallying too long
With loving women, wasting precious hours
In base delights and enervating sloth;
Who, when he shakes them off, puts back his hair
From his broad brow, and places on his head
The plumed helmet-throws his velvets off.
And swathes his vigorous limbs in glancing steel.
To lead true hearts to struggle for mankind.
Or if no more, Soldier of Liberty!
Thou 'lt lead the nations-stand upon the hill,
And, like a prophet, preach a holy creed
Of freedom, progress, peace, and happiness;
And all the world shall listen to thy voice,
And Tyranny, hyaena big with young,
Dreading the sound, shall farrow in affright.
And drop, still-born, her sanguinary cubs,
And many a bloody feud be spared mankind.
Poland again, with desperate grasp, shall seize
The neck of her enslaver, and extort
Full justice from his terror; Hungary,
Ermined and crown'd, shall sit in her own seat
In peaceful state and sober majesty;
And Italy, unloosening her bonds
By her strong will, shall be at last the home
Of broadly based and virtuous liberty,
And in her bosom nuture evermore,
Not the fierce virtues of her Roman youth,
But the calm blessings of her later time
Science, and art, and civilizing trade,
Divine philosophy, diviner song,
And true religion reconciled with man.
Speak out, O Paris! purify thyself
By noble thoughts, and deeds will follow them.
The world has need of thee. Humanity
Droops for thy dalliance with degraded things,
Alien, and most unworthy of the soul
That sleeps within thee. Rouse thyself, O Paris!
The time expects thee. Pyrenees, and Alps,
And Appenines, and snow-clad Balkans, wait,
With all their echoes, to repeat the words
Which thou must utter! Thou hast slumber'd long
Long dallied. Speak! The world will answer thee!

Submitted: Thursday, October 18, 2012

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