Joel Barlow (24 March 1754 – 26 December 1812 / Redding, Connecticut)
The Columbiad: Book IV
Destruction of Peru foretold. Grief of Columbus. He is comforte the promise of a vision of future ages. All Europe appears in vision. Effect of the discovery of America upon the affairs of Europe. Improvement in commerce; government. Revival of letters. Order of the Jesuits. Religious persecution. Inquisition. Rise and progress of more liberal principles. Character of Raleigh; who plans the settlement of North America. Formation of the coast by the gulph stream. Nature of the colonial establishments, the first great asylum and infant empire of Liberty. Liberty the necessary foundation of morals. Delaware arrives with a reinforcement of new settlers, to consolidate the colony of Virginia. Night scene, as contemplated by these patriarchs, while they are sailing up the Chesapeak, and are saluted by the river gods. Prophetic speech of Potowmak. Fleets of settlers from seyeral parts of Europe steering for America.
In one dark age, beneath a single hand,
Thus rose an empire in the savage land.
Its wealth and power with following years increase,
Its growing nations spread the walks of peace;
Religion here, that universal name,
Man's proudest passion, most ungovern'd flame,
Erects her altars on the same bright base,
That dazzled erst, and still deludes the race;
Sun, moon, all powers that forceful strike his eyes,
Earth-shaking storms and constellated skies.
Yet all the pomp his labors here unfold,
The vales of verdure and the towers of gold,
Those infant arts and sovereign seats of state,
In short-lived glory hasten to their fate.
Thy followers, rushing like an angry flood,
Too soon shall drench them in the nation's blood;
Nor thou, Las Casas, best of men, shalt stay
The ravening legions from their guardless prey.
O hapless prelate! hero, saint and sage,
Foredoom'd with crimes a fruitless war to wage,
To see at last (thy life of virtue run)
A realm unpeopled and a world undone!
While pious Valverde mock of priesthood stands,
Guilt in his heart, the gospel in his hands,
Bids, in one field, their unarm'd thousands bleed,
Smiles o'er the scene and sanctifies the deed.
And thou, brave Gasca, with persuasive strain,
Shalt lift thy voice and urge thy power in vain;
Vain are thy hopes the sinking land to save,
Or call her slaughter'd millions from the grave.
Here Hesper paused. Columbus with a sigh
Cast o'er the continent his moisten'd eye,
And thus replied: Ah, hide me in the tomb;
Why should I live to see the impending doom?
If such foul deeds the scheme of heaven compose,
And virtue's toils induce redoubled woes,
Unfold no more; but grant a kind release;
Give me, tis all I ask, to rest in peace.
And thou shalt rest in peace, the Saint rejoin'd,
Ere these conflicting shades involve mankind.
But broader views shall first thy mind engage,
Years far advanced beyond this darksome age
Shall feast thee here; the fruits of thy long care
A grateful world beneath thy ken shall share.
Europe's contending kings shall soon behold
These fertile plains and hills of treasured gold;
And in the path of thy adventurous sail
Their countless navies float on every gale,
For wealth and commerce search the western shore.
And load each ocean with the shining ore.
As up the orient heaven the dawning ray
Smiles o'er the hills and gives the promised day,
Drives fraud and rapine from their nightly spoil,
And social nature wakes to various toil;
So from the blazing mine the golden store
Mid rival states shall spread from shore to shore,
Unite their force, its opulence to share,
Extend the pomp but sooth the rage of war;
Wide thro the world while genius unconfined
Tempts loftier flights, and opens all the mind,
Dissolves the slavish bands of monkish lore,
Wakes the bold arts and bids the Muses soar.
Then shall thy northern climes their seats display
United nations there commence their sway;
O'er earth and ocean spread their peerless fame,
And send thro time thy patriarchal name.
Now turn thy view to Europe; see the rage
Of feudal faction every court engage;
All honest labor, all commercial ties
Their kings discountenance, their lords despise.
The naked harbors, looking to the main,
Rear their kind cliffs and break the storms in vain,
The willing wave no foreign treasures lade,
Nor sails nor cities cast a watery shade;
Save, where yon opening gulph the strand divides,
Proud Venice bathes her in the broken tides,
Weds her tamed sea, shakes every distant throne,
And deems by right the naval world her own.
Yet must we mark, the bondage of the mind
Spreads deeper glooms, and subj ugates mankind;
The zealots fierce, whom local creeds enrage,
In holy feuds perpetual combat wage,
Support all crimes by full indulgence given,
Usurp the power and wield the sword of heaven,
But lo, where future years their scenes unrol,
The rising arts inspire the venturous soul.
From all the ports that cleave the coast of Spain,
New fleets ascending streak the western main;
From Tago's bank, from Albion's rocky round,
Commercing squadrons o'er the billows bound;
Thro Afric's isles observe the sweeping sails,
Full pinions tossing in Arabian gales,
Indus and Ganges deep in canvass lost,
And navies crowding round Cambodia's coast;
New nations rise, all climes and oceans brave,
And shade with sheets the immeasurable wave.
See lofty Ximenes with solemn gait
Move from the cloister to the walks of state,
And thro the factious monarchies of Spain,
Curb the fierce lords and fix one royal reign.
Behold dread Charles the imperial seat ascends,
O'er Europe's thrones his conquering arm extends;
While wealthier shores, beneath the western day,
Unfold their treasures to confirm his sway.
Roused at false glory's fascinating call,
See Francis train the gallant youths of Gaul,
O'erstrain the strength of her extended states,
Scale the proud Alps, or burst their granite gates,
On Pavia's plain for Cesar's crown contend,
Of arms the votary, but of arts the friend.
And see proud Wolsey rise, securely great,
Kings at his call and mitres round him wait;
From monkish walls the hoarded wealth he draws
To aid the tyrant and restrain the laws,
Wakes Albion's genius, neighboring princes braves,
And shares with them the commonwealth of waves,
Behold dark Solyman, from eastern skies,
With his grim host magnificently rise,
Wave his broad crescent o'er the Midland sea,
Thro vast Hungaria drive his conquering way,
Crowd close the Christian powers, and carry far
The rules of homicide, the lore of war.
The Tuscan dukes excite a nobler strife;
Lorenzo calls the Fine Arts forth to life,
Fair nature's mimic maids; whose powers divine
Her charms develop and her laws define;
From sire to son the splendid labors spread,
And Leo follows where good Cosmo led.
Waked from the ground that Gothic rovers trod,
Starts the bronze hero and the marble god;
Monks, prelates, pontiffs pay the reverence due
To that bold taste their Grecian masters knew;
Resurgent temples throng the Latian shore,
The Pencil triumphs and the Muses soar.
O'er the dark world Erasmus rears his eye,
In schoolman lore sees kings and nations lie,
With strength of judgment and with fancy warm,
Derides their follies and dissolves the charm,
Tears the deep veil that bigot zeal has thrown
On pagan books and science long unknown,
From faith in senseless rites relieves mankind,
And seats bold virtue in the conscious mind.
But still the frightful task, to face alone
The jealous vengeance of the papal throne,
Restrains his hand: he gives the contest o'er,
And leaves his hardier sons to curb that power.
Luther walks forth in yon majestic frame,
Bright beam of heaven, and heir of endless fame,
Born, like thyself, thro toils and griefs to wind,
From slavery's chains to free the captive mind,
Brave adverse crowns, control the pontiff sway,
And bring benighted nations into day.
Remark what crowds his name around him brings,
Schools, synods, prelates, potentates and kings,
All gaining knowledge from his boundless store,
And join'd to shield him from the papal power.
First of his friends, see Frederic's princely form
Ward from the sage divine the gathering storm,
In learned Wittemburgh secure his seat,
High throne of thought, religion's safe retreat.
There sits Melancthon, mild as morning light,
And feuds, tho sacred, soften in his sight;
In terms so gentle flows his tuneful tongue,
Even cloister'd bigots join the pupil throng;
By all sectarian chiefs he lives approved,
By monarchs courted and by men beloved.
And lo, where Europe's utmost limits bend,
From this new source what various lights ascend!
See haughty Henry from the papal tie
His realms dissever, and the priest defy;
While Albion's sons disdain a foreign throne,
And learn to bound the oppressions of their own.
Then rises Loyola, a strange new name,
By paths unseen to reach the goal of fame;
Thro courts and camps he teaches how to wind,
To mine whole states and overreach mankind.
Train'd in his school, a bold and artful race
Range o'er the world, and every sect embrace,
All creeds and powers and policies explore,
New seats of science raise on every shore;
Till their wide empire gains a wondrous birth,
Built in all empires o'er this ancient earth.
Our wildmen too, the tribes of Paraguay,
Receive their rites and bow beneath their sway.
The world of men thus moving in thy view
Improve their state, more useful works pursue;
Unwonted deeds in rival greatness shine,
Call'd into life, and first inspired by thine.
So while imperial Homer tunes the lyre,
His living lays unnumber'd bards inspire;
From age to age the kindling spirit flies,
Sounds thro the earth and echoes to the skies.
Now roll the years, when Europe's ample space
By peace and culture rears a wiser race,
Men bred to labor, school'd in freedom's lore,
And formed to colonize our favorite shore.
To speed their course, the sons of bigot rage
In persecution whelm the inquiring age;
Myriads of martyr'd heroes mount the pyre,
And blind devotion lights the sacred fire.
Led by the dark Dominicans of Spain,
A newborn Fury walks the wide domain,
Gaunt INQUISITION; mark her giant stride,
Her blood-nursed vulture screaming at her side.
Her priestly train the tools of torment brings.
Racks, wheels and crosses, faggots, stakes and strings;
Scaffolds and cages round her altar stand,
And, tipt with sulphur, waves her flaming brand.
Her imps of inquest round the Fiend advance,
Suspectors grave, and spies with eye askance,
Pretended heretics who worm the soul,
And sly confessors with their secret scroll,
Accusers hired, for each conviction paid,
Judges retain'd and witnesses by trade.
Dragged from a thousand jails her victim trains,
Jews, Moors and Christians, clank alike their chains,
Read their known sentence in her fiery eyes,
And breathe to heaven their unavailing cries;
Lash'd on the pile their writhing bodies turn,
And, veil'd in doubling smoke, begin to burn.
Where the flames open, lo! their limbs in vain
Reach out for help, distorted by the pain;
Till folded in the fires they disappear,
And not a sound invades the startled ear.
See Philip, throned in insolence and pride,
Enjoy their wailings and their pangs deride;
While o'er the same dread scenes, on Albion's isles,
His well-taught spouse, the cruel Mary, smiles.
What clouds of smoke hang heavy round the shore!
What altars hecatomb'd with Christian gore!
Her sire's best friends, the wise, the brave, the good,
Roll in the flames or fly the land of blood.
To Gallia's plains the maddening phrensy turns.
Religion raves and civil discord burns;
Leaguers and Huguenots their vengeance pour,
They swell Bartholemy's wide feast of gore,
Alternate victors bid their gibbets rise,
And the foul stench of victims chokes the skies.
Now cease the factions with the Valois line,
And Bourbon's virtues every voice combine.
Quell'd by his fame, the furious sects accord,
Europe respires beneath his guardian sword;
Batavia's states to independence soar,
And curb the cohorts of Iberian power.
From Albion's ports her infant navies heave,
Stretch forth and thunder on the Flandrian wave;
Her Howard there first foils the force of Spain,
And there begins her mastery of the main.
The Seraph spoke; when full beneath their eye
A new-form'd squadron rose along the sky.
High on the tallest deck majestic shone
Sage Raleigh, pointing to the western sun;
His eye, bent forward, ardent and sublime,
Seem'd piercing nature and evolving time;
Beside him stood a globe, whose figures traced
A future empire in each present waste;
All former works of men behind him shone
Graved by his hand in ever-during stone;
On his calm brow a various crown displays
The hero's laurel and the scholar's bays;
His graceful limbs in steely mail were drest,
The bright star burning on his lofty breast;
His sword, high waving, flash'd the solar ray.
Illumed the shrouds and rainbow'd far the spray;
The smiling crew rose resolute and brave,
And the glad sails hung bounding o'er the wave.
Storms of wild Hatteras, suspend your roar,
Ye tumbling billows, cease to shake the shore;
Look thro the doubling clouds, thou lamp of day,
Teach the bold Argonauts their chartless way;
Your viewless capes, broad Chesapeak, unfold,
And show your promised Colchis fleeced with gold.
No plundering squadron your new Jason brings;
No pirate demigods nor hordes of kings
From shore to shore a faithless miscreant steers,
To steal a maid and leave a sire in tears.
But yon wise chief conducts with careful ken
The queen of colonies, the best of men,
To wake to fruitful life your slumbering soil,
And rear an empire with the hand of toil.
Your fond Medea too, whose dauntless breast
All danger braves to screen her hunted guest.
Shall quit her native tribe, but never share
The crimes and sufferings of the Colchian fair.
Blest Pocahontas! fear no lurking guile;
Thy hero's love shall well reward thy smile.
Ah sooth the wanderer in his desperate plight,
Hide him by day and calm his cares by night;
Tho savage nations with thy vengeful sire
Pursue their victim with unceasing ire,
And tho their threats thy startled ear assail,
Let virtue's voice o'er filial fears prevail.
Fly with the faithful youth, his steps to guide,
Pierce the known thicket, breast the fordless tide,
Illude the scout, avoid the ambush'd line,
And lead him safely to his friends and thine;
For thine shall be his friends, his heart, his name;
His camp shall shout, his nation boast thy fame.
But now the Bay unfolds a passage wide,
And leads the squadron up the freshening tide;
Where Pohatan spreads deep her sylvan soil,
And grassy lawns allure the steps of toil.
Here, lodged in peace, they tread the welcome land.
An instant harvest waves beneath their hand,
Spontaneous fruits their easy cares beguile,
And opening fields in living culture smile.
With joy Columbus view'd; when thus his voice:
Ye grove-clad shores, ye generous hosts, rejoice!
Exchange your benefits, your gifts combine;
What nature fashions, let her sons refine.
Be thou, my Seer, the people's guardian friend,
Protect their virtues and their lives defend;
May wealth and wisdom with their arts unfold,
Yet save, oh, save them from the thirst of gold!
Let the poor guardless natives never feel
The flamen's fraud, the soldier's fateful steel;
But learn the blessings that alone attend
On civil rights where social virtues blend,
In these brave leaders find a welcome guide,
And rear their fanes and empires by their side.
Smile, great Hesperia, smile; the star of morn
Illumes thy heavens and bids thy day be born;
Thy opening forests show the work begun,
Thy plains unshaded drink a purer sun;
Yield now thy bounties, load the laboring main,
Give birth to nations, and begin thy reign.
The Hero spoke; when thus the Saint rejoin'd,
Approved his joy, and feasted still his mind:
Well may thy voice, with patriarch pride elate,
Burst forth triumphant at a scene so great;
Here springs indeed the day, since time began,
The brightest, broadest, happiest morn of man.
In these prime settlements thy raptures trace
The germ, the genius of a sapient race,
Predestined here to methodise and mould
New codes of empire to reform the old.
A work so vast a second world required,
By oceans bourn'd, from elder states retired;
Where, uncontaminated, unconfined,
Free contemplation might expand the mind,
To form, fix, prove the well-adjusted plan,
And base and build the commonwealth of man.
This arm, that leads the stellar host of even,
That stretch'd o'er yon rude ridge the western heaven,
That heal'd the wounded earth, when from her side
The moon burst forth, and left the South Sea tide,
That calm'd these elements, and taught them where
To mould their mass and rib the crusted sphere,
Line the closed continent with wrecks of life,
And recommence their generating strife,
That rear'd the mountain, spread the subject plain,
Led the long stream and roll'd the billowy main,
Stole from retiring tides the growing strand,
Heaved the green banks, the shadowy inlets plann'd,
Strow'd the wild fruitage, gave the beast his place,
And form'd the region for thy filial race,-
This arm prepared their future seats of state,
Design'd their limits and prescribed their date.
When first the staggering globe its breach repair'd,
And this bold hemisphere its shoulders rear'd,
Back to those heights, whose hovering vapor shrouds
My rock-raised world in Alleganian clouds,
The Atlantic waste its coral kingdom spread,
And scaly nations here their gambols led;
Till by degrees, thro following tracts of time,
From laboring ocean rose the sedgy clime,
As from unloaded waves the rising sand
Swell'd into light and gently drew to land.
For, moved by trade winds o'er the flaming zone,
The waves roll westward with the constant sun,
Meet my firm isthmus, scoop that gulphy bed,
Wheel to the north, and here their current spread.
Those ravaged banks, that move beneath their force,
Borne on the tide and lost along their course,
Create the shore, consolidate the soil.
And hither lead the enlighten'd steps of toil.
Think not the lust of gold shall here annoy,
Enslave the nation and its nerve destroy.
No useles mine these northern hills enclose,
No ruby ripens and no diamond glows;
But richer stores and rocks of useful mould
Repay in wealth the penury of gold.
Freedom's unconquer'd race, with healthy toil,
Shall lop the grove and warm the furrow'd soil,
From iron ridges break the rugged ore,
And plant with men the man-ennobling shore;
Sails, villas, towers and temples round them heave,
Shine o'er the realms and light the distant wave.
Nor think the native tribes shall rue the day
That leads our heroes o'er the watery way.
A cause like theirs no mean device can mar,
Nor bigot rage nor sacerdotal war.
From eastern tyrants driven, resolved and brave,
To build new states or seek a distant grave,
Our sons shall try a new colonial plan,
To tame the soil, but spare their kindred man.
Thro Europe's wilds when feudal nations spread.
The pride of conquest every legion led.
Each fur-clad chief, by servile crowds adored,
O'er conquer'd realms assumed the name of lord,
Built the proud castle, ranged the savage wood,
Fired his grim host to frequent fields of blood,
With new-made honors lured his subject bands,
Price of their lives, and purchase of their lands;
For names and titles bade the world resign
Their faith, their freedom and their rights divine.
Contending baronies their terrors spread,
And slavery follow'd where the standard led;
Till, little tyrants by the great o'erthrown,
The spoils of nobles build the regal crown;
Wealth, wisdom, virtue, every claim of man
Unguarded fall to consummate the plan.
Ambitious cares, that nature never gave,
Torment alike the monarch and the slave,
Thro all degrees in gradual pomp ascend,
Honor the name, but tyranny the end.
Far different honors here the heart shall claim,
Sublimer objects, deeds of happier fame;
A new creation waits the western shore,
And moral triumphs o'er monarchic power.
Thy freeborn sons, with genius unconfined,
Nor sloth can slacken nor a tyrant bind;
With self-wrought fame and worth internal blest,
No venal star shall brighten on their breast,
Nor king-created name nor courtly art
Damp the bold thought or desiccate the heart.
Above all fraud, beyond all titles great,
Truth in their voice and sceptres at their feet,
Like sires of unborn states they move sublime,
Look empires thro and span the breadth of time,
Hold o'er the world, that men may choose from far,
The palm of peace, or scourge of barbarous war;
Till their example every nation charms,
Commands its friendship and its rage disarms.
Here social man a second birth shall find,
And a new range of reason lift his mind,
Feed his strong intellect with purer light,
A nobler sense of duty and of right,
The sense of liberty; whose holy fire
His life shall temper and his laws inspire,
Purge from all shades the world-embracing scope
That prompts his genius and expands his hope.
When first his form arose erect on earth,
Parturient nature hail'd the wondrous birth,
With fairest limbs and finest fibres wrought,
And framed for vast and various toils of thought.
To aid his promised powers with loftier flight,
And stretch his views beyond corporeal sight,
Prometheus came, and from the floods of day
Sunn'd his clear soul with heaven's internal ray,
The expanding spark divine; that round him springs,
And leads and lights him thro the immense of things,
Probes the dense earth, explores the soundless main,
Remoulds their mass thro all its threefold reign,
O'er great, o'er small extends his physic laws,
Empalms the empyrean or dissects a gaz,
Weighs the vast orbs of heaven, bestrides the sky,
Walks on the windows of an insect's eye;
Turns then to self, more curious still to trace
The whirls of passion that involve the race,
That cloud with mist the visual lamp of God,
And plunge the poniard in fraternal blood.
Here fails his light. The proud Titanian ray
O'er physic nature sheds indeed its day;
Yet leaves the moral in chaotic jars,
The spoil of violence, the sport of wars,
Presents contrasted parts of one great plan,
Earth, heaven subdued, but man at swords with man;
His wars, his errors into science grown,
And the great cause of all his ills unknown.
But when he steps on these regenerate shores,
His mind unfolding for superior powers,
FREEDOM, his new Prometheus, here shall rise,
Light her new torch in my refulgent skies,
Touch with a stronger life his opening soul,
Of moral systems fix the central goal,
Her own resplendent essence. Thence expand
The rays of reason that illume the land;
Thence equal rights proceed, and equal laws,
Thence holy Justice all her reverence draws;
Truth with untarnish'd beam descending thence,
Strikes every eye, and quickens every sense,
Bids bright Instruction spread her ample page,
To drive dark dogmas from the inquiring age,
Ope the true treasures of the earth and skies,
And teach the student where his object lies.
Sun of the moral world! effulgent source
Of man's best wisdom and his steadiest force,
Soul-searching Freedom! here assume thy stand,
And radiate hence to every distant land;
Point out and prove how all the scenes of strife,
The shock of states, the impassion'd broils of life,
Spring from unequal sway; and how they fly
Before the splendor of thy peaceful eye;
Unfold at last the genuine social plan,
The mind's full scope, the dignity of man,
Bold nature bursting thro her long disguise,
And nations daring to be just and wise.
Yes! righteous Freedom, heaven and earth and sea
Yield or withold their various gifts for thee;
Protected Industry beneath thy reign
Leads all the virtues in her filial train;
Courageous Probity with brow serene,
And Temperance calm presents her placid mien
Contentment, Moderation, Labor, Art,
Mould the new man and humanize his heart;
To public plenty private ease dilates,
Domestic peace to harmony of states.
Protected Industry, careering far,
Detects the cause and cures the rage of war,
And sweeps, with forceful arm, to their last graves,
Kings from the earth and pirates from the waves.
But slow proceeds the work. Long toils, my son,
Must base the fabric of so vast a throne;
Where Freedom founds her everlasting reign,
And earth's whole empires form the fair domain.
That great coloniarch, whose exalted soul
Pervades all scenes that future years unrol,
Must yield the palm, and at a courtier's shrine
His plans relinquish and his life resign;
His life that brightens, as his death shall stain,
The fair, foul annals of his master's reign.
That feeble band, the lonely wilds who tread,
Their sire, their genius in their Raleigh dead,
Shall pine and perish in the savage gloom,
Or mount the wave and seek their ancient home.
Others in vain the generous task pursue,
The dangers tempt and all the strife renew;
While kings and ministers obstruct the plan,
Unfaithful guardians of the weal of man.
At last brave Delaware, with his blithe host,
Sails in full triumph to the well-known coast,
Aids with a liberal hand the patriot cause,
Reforms their policy, designs their laws;
Till o'er Virginia's plains they spread their sway,
And push their hamlets tow'rd the setting day.
He comes, my Delaware! how mild and bland
My zephyrs greet him from the long-sought land!
From fluvial glades that thro my cantons run,
From those rich mounds that mask the falling sun.
Borne up my Chesapeak, as first he hails
The flowery banks that scent his slackening sails,
Descending twilight mellows down the gleam
That spreads far forward on the broad blue stream;
The moonbeam dancing, as the pendants glide,
Silvers with trembling tints the ripply tide;
The sand-sown beach, the rocky bluff repays
The faint effulgence with their amber'd rays;
O'er greenwood glens a browner lustre flies,
And bright-hair'd hills walk shadowy round the skies.
Profound solicitude and strong delight
Absorb the chief, as thro the waste of night
He walks the lonely deck, and skirts the lands
That wait their nations from his guiding hands.
Tall thro the tide the river Sires by turns
Rise round the bark and blend their social urns;
Majestic brotherhood! each feels the power
To feed an empire from his future store.
They stand stupendous, flooding full the bay,
And pointing each thro different climes the way.
Resplendent o'er the rest, the regent god
Potowmak towers, and sways the swelling flood;
Vines clothe his arms, wild fruits o'erfill his horn,
Wreaths of green maize his reverend brows adorn,
His silver beard reflects the lunar day,
And round his loins the scaly nations play.
The breeze falls calm, the sails in silence rest,
While thus his greetings cheer the stranger guest:
Blest be the bark that seized the promised hour
To waft thee welcome to this friendly shore!
Long have we learnt the fame that here awaits
The future sires of our unplanted states;
We all salute thee with our mingling tides,
Our high-fenced havens and our fruitful sides.
The hundred realms our myriad fountains drain
Shall lose their limits in the vast domain;
But my bold banks with proud impatience wait
The palm of glory in a work so great;
On me thy sons their central seat shall raise,
And crown my labors with distinguish'd praise.
For this, from rock-ribb'd lakes I forced my birth,
And climb'd and sunder'd many a mound of earth,
Rent the huge hills that yonder heave on high
And with their tenfold ridges rake the sky,
Removed whole mountains in my headlong way,
Strow'd a strong soil around this branching Bay,
Scoop'd wide his basins to the distant main,
And hung with headlands every marsh they drain.
Haste then, my heroes, tempt the fearless toil,
Enrich your nations with the nurturing spoil;
O'er my vast vales let yellow harvests wave,
Quay the calm ports and dike the lawns I lave.
Win from the waters every stagnant fen,
Where truant rills escape my conscious ken;
And break those remnant rocks that still impede
My current crowding thro the gaps I made.
So shall your barks pursue my branching bed,
Slope after slope, to every fountain's head,
Seat your contiguous towns on all my shores,
And charge my channel with their seaward stores.
Freedom and Peace shall well reward your care,
My guardian mounds protect the friendly pair;
Or if delirious War shall dare draw nigh,
And eastern storms o'ercast the western sky,
My soil shall rear the chief to guide your host,
And drive the demon cringing from the coast;
Yon verdant hill his sylvan seat shall claim,
And grow immortal from his deathless fame.
Then shall your federal towers my bank adorn,
And hail with me the great millennial morn
That gilds your capitol. Thence earth shall draw
Her first clear codes of liberty and law;
There public right a settled form shall find,
Truth trim her lamp to lighten humankind,
Old Afric's sons their shameful fetters cast,
Our wild Hesperians humanize at last,
All men participate, all time expand
The source of good my liberal sages plann'd.
This said, he plunges in the sacred flood;
That closes calm and lulls the cradled god.
Exulting at his words, the gallant crew
Brace the broad canvass and their course pursue:
For now the breathing airs, from ocean born,
Breeze up the bay, and lead the lively morn
That lights them to their port. Tis here they join
Their bold precursors in the work divine;
And here their followers, yet a numerous train,
Wind o'er the wave and swell the new domain.
For impious Laud, on England's wasted shore,
Renews the flames that Mary fed before;
Contristed sects his sullen fury fly,
To seek new seats beneath a safer sky;
Where faith and freedom yield a forceful charm,
And toils and dangers every bosom warm.
Amid the tried unconquerable train,
Whom tyrants press and seas oppose in vain,
See Plymouth colons stretch their standards o'er,
Face the dark wildmen and the wintry shore;
See virtuous Baltimore ascend the wave,
See peaceful Penn its unknown terrors brave;
Swedes, Belgians, Gauls their various flags display,
Full pinions crowding on the watery way;
All from their different ports, their sails unfurl'd,
Point their glad streamers to the western world.
Comments about this poem (The Columbiad: Book IV by Joel Barlow )
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