On the Place de la Concorde
[Originally called the Place de Louis Seize,--next the Place de la
Revolution, where the perpetual guillotine stood.]
Proud Seine, along thy winding tide
Fair smiles yon plain expanding wide,
And, deckt with art and nature's pride,
Seems formed for jocund revelry.
Scene, formed the eye of taste to please!
There splendid domes attention seize,
There, proudly towering, spreading trees
Arise in beauteous rivalry:....
But there's a place amidst that plain
Which bids its beauties beam in vain;
Which wakes the inmost soul to pain,
And prompts the throb of agony.
That place by day, lo! numbers fly,
And, shuddering, start to see it nigh;
Who there at midnight breathe the sigh
Of faithful, suffering, loyalty.
While, blending with those loyal sighs,
Oft times the patriot's murmurs rise,
Who thither, hid by darkness, flies,
To mourn the sons of liberty.
Lo! as amidst that plain I stray,
Methinks strange sadness shrouds the day,
And clothed in slaughter's red array
Appears the scene of gayety.
For once that spot was dark with blood,
There death's destroying engine stood,
There streamed, alas! the vital flood
Of all that graced humanity.
Ah! since this fair domain ye chose,
Dread ruffians, for your murderous blows,
Could not the smiling scene unclose
Your hearts to love and charity!
No....horrid contrast! on that scene
The murderer reared his poniard keen;
There proudly stalked with hideous mien
The blood-stained sons of anarchy.
Nor, Gallia, shall thy varied mirth,
Thy store of all that graces earth,
Ere give a kind oblivion birth
To thy recorded cruelty.
In all thy pomp of charms and power,
Earth can, alas! forget no more
The awful guilt that stains thy shore
With dies of sanguine tyranny,
Than they who see blue lightnings beam
Can ere forget, though fair they seem,
That danger lurks in every gleam,
And death's appalling agency.
Amelia Opie's Other Poems
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