The Pleasures of Hope (excerpt)
PART I (excerpt)
Where barbarous hordes on Scythian mountains roam,
Truth, Mercy, Freedom, yet shall find a home;
Where'er degraded Nature bleeds and pines,
From Guinea's coast to Sibir's dreary mines,
Truth shall pervade the unfathomed darkness there,
And light the dreadful features of despair.
Hark! the stern captive spurns his heavy load,
And asks the image back that Heaven bestowed.
Fierce in his eye the fire of valour burns,
And, as the slave departs, the man returns.
Oh! sacred Truth! thy triumph ceased awhile,
And Hope, thy sister, ceased with thee to smile,
When leagued Oppression poured to Northern wars
Her whiskered pandoors and her fierce hussars,
Waved her dread standard to the breeze of morn,
Pealed her loud drum, and twanged her trumpet horn;
Tumultuous horror brooded o'er her van,
Presaging wrath to Poland--and to man!
Warsaw's last champion from her height surveyed
Wide o'er the fields, a waste of ruin laid;
"Oh! Heaven!" he cried, "my bleeding country save!
Is there no hand on high to shield the brave?
Yet, though destruction sweep these lovely plains,
Rise, fellow men! our country yet remains!
By that dread name we wave the sword on high,
And swear for her to live!--with her to die!"
He said, and on the rampart-heights arrayed
His trusty warriors, few but undismayed;
Firm-paced and slow, a horrid front they form,
Still as the breeze, but dreadful as the storm;
Low murmuring sounds along their banners fly,
Revenge, or death,--the watch-word and reply;
Then pealed the notes, omnipotent to charm,
And the loud tocsin tolled their last alarm!
In vain, alas! in vain, ye gallant few!
From rank to rank your volleyed thunder flew;
Oh, bloodiest picture in the book of Time,
Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a crime;
Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe,
Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her woe!
Dropped from her nerveless grasp the shattered spear,
Closed her bright eye, and curbed her high career,--
Hope, for a season, bade the world farewell,
And Freedom shrieked--as Kosciusko fell!
The sun went down, nor ceased the carnage there.
Tumultuous murder shook the midnight air;
On Prague's proud arch the fires of ruin glow,
His blood-dyed waters murmuring far below;
The storm prevails, the rampart yields a way;
Bursts the wide cry of horror and dismay!
Hark! as the smouldering piles with thunder fall,
A thousand shrieks for hopeless mercy call!
Earth shook; red meteors flashed along the sky,
And conscious Nature shuddered at the cry!
Oh! righteous Heaven! ere Freedom found a grave,
Why slept the sword omnipotent to save?
Where was thine arm, O Vengeance! where thy rod,
That smote the foes of Zion and of God,
That crushed proud Ammon, when his iron car
Was yoked in wrath, and thundered from afar?
Where was the storm that slumbered till the host
Of blood-stained Pharaoh left their trembling coast,
Then bade the deep in wild commotion flow,
And heaved an ocean on their march below?
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