Joel Barlow (24 March 1754 – 26 December 1812 / Redding, Connecticut)
Vision of Columbus – Book 2
High o'er the changing scene, as thus he gazed,
The indulgent Power his arm sublimely raised;
When round the realms superior lustre flew,
And call'd new wonders to the hero's view.
He saw, at once, as far as eye could rove,
Like scattering herds, the swarthy people move,
In tribes innumerable; all the waste,
Beneath their steps, a varying shadow cast.
As airy shapes, beneath the moon's pale eye,
When broken clouds sail o'er the curtain'd sky,
Spread thro' the grove and flit along the glade,
And cast their grisly phantoms thro' the shade;
So move the hordes, in thickers half conceal'd,
Or vagrant stalking o'er the open field.
Here ever-restless tribes, despising home,
O'er shadowy streams and trackless deserts roam;
While others there, thro' downs and hamlets stray,
And rising domes a happier state display.
The painted chiefs, in death's grim terrors drest,
Rise fierce to war, and beat the savage breast;
Dark round their steps collecting warriors pour,
And dire revenge begins the hideous roar;
While to the realms around the signal flies,
And tribes on tribes, in dread disorder, rise,
Track the mute foe and scour the distant wood,
Wide as a storm, and dreadful as a flood;
Now deep in groves the silent ambush lay,
Or wing the flight or sweep the prize away,
Unconscious babes and reverend sires devour,
Drink the warm blood and paint their cheeks with gore.
While all their mazy movements fill the view.
Where'er they turn his eager eyes pursue;
He saw the same dire visage thro' the whole,
And mark'd the same fierce savageness of soul:
In doubt he stood, with anxious thoughts oppress'd,
And thus his wavering mind the Power address'd.
Say, from what source, O Voice of wisdom, sprung
The countless tribes of this amazing throng?
Where human frames and brutal souls combine,
No force can tame them and no arts refine.
Can these be fashion'd on the social plan?
Or boast a lineage with the race of man?
In yon fair isle, when first my wandering view
Ranged the glad coast and met the savage crew;
A timorous herd, like harmless roes, they ran,
Hail'd us as Gods from whom their race began,
Supply'd our various wants, relieved our toil,
And oped the unbounded treasures of their isle.
But when, their fears allay'd, in us they trace
The well-known image of a mortal race;
When Spanish blood their wondering eyes beheld,
Returning rage their changing bosoms swell'd;
Their jaws the crimson dainty long'd to taste,
And spread, with foreign flesh, the rich repast.
My homeward sail, far distant on the main,
Incautious left a small unguarded train,
When, in their horrid power, bereft of aid,
That train with thee, O lost Arada, bled.
No faith no treaty calms their maddening flame,
Rage all their joy, and slaughter all their aim;
How the dread savage bands with fury burn'd,
When o'er the wave our growing host return'd!
Now, mild with joy, a friendly smile they show'd,
And now their dark-red visage frown'd in blood;
Till, call'd afar, from all the circling shore,
Swift thro' the groves the yelling squadrons pour,
The wide wings stretching sweep the unbounded plain,
That groans beneath the innumerable train.
Our scanty files, ascending o'er the strand,
Tread the bold champaign and the fight demand;
With steeds and hounds the dreadful onset moves,
And thundering batteries rend the distant groves;
Swift fly the scattering foes, like shades of night,
When orient splendors urge their rapid flight.
Our proffer'd friendship bade the discord cease,
Spared the grim host and gave the terms of peace.
The arts of civil life we strove to lend,
Their lands to culture and their joys extend,
Sublime their views, fair virtue's charms display,
And point their passage to eternal day.
Still proud to rove, our offers they disdain,
Insult our friendship and our rites prophane.
In that blest island, still the myriads rest,
Bask in the sunshine, wander with the beast,
Feed on the foe, or from the victor fly,
Rise into life, exhaust their rage, and die.
Tell then, my Seer, from what dire sons of earth
The brutal people drew their ancient birth?
Whether in realms, the western heavens that close,
A tribe distinct from other nations rose,
Born to subjection; when, in happier time,
A nobler race should hail their fruitful clime.
Or, if a common source all nations claim,
Their lineage, form, and reasoning powers the same,
What sovereign cause, in secret wisdom laid,
This wonderous change in God's own work has made?
Why various powers of soul and tints of face
In different climes diversify the race?
To whom the Guide; Unnumber'd causes lie
In earth and sea and round the varying sky,
That fire the soul, or damp the genial flame,
And work their wonders on the human frame.
See beauty, form and colour change with place–
Here charms of health the blooming visage grace;
There pale diseases float in every wind,
Deform the figure, and degrade the mind.
From earth's own elements, thy race at first
Rose into life, the children of the dust;
These kindred elements, by various use,
Nourish the growth and every change produce;
Pervade the pores, awake the infant bloom,
Lead life along, and ope the certain tomb;
In each ascending stage the man sustain,
His breath, his food, his physic and his bane.
In due proportions, where these virtues lie,
A perfect form their equal aids supply;
And, while unchanged the efficient causes reign,
Age following age the unvaried race maintain.
But where crude elements distemper'd rise,
And cast their sickening vapours round the skies,
Unlike that harmony of human frame,
Where God's first works and nature's were the same,
The unconscious tribes, attempering to the clime,
Still vary downward with the years of time;
Till fix'd, at last, their characters abide,
And local likeness feeds their local pride.
The soul too varying with the changing clime,
Feeble or fierce, or groveling or sublime,
Forms with the body to a kindred plan,
And lives the same, a nation or a man.
Yet think not clime alone, or height of poles,
On every shore, the springs of life controuls;
A different cast the glowing zone demands,
In Paria's blooms, from Tombut's burning sands.
Internal causes, thro' the earth and skies,
Blow in the breeze or on the mountain rise,
Thro' air and ocean, with their changes run,
Breathe from the ground or circle with the fun.
Where these long shores their boundless regions spread
See the same form all different tribes pervade;
Thro' all, alike, the fertile forests bloom,
And all, uncultured, shed a solemn gloom;
Thro' all great nature's boldest features rise,
Sink into vales and tower amid the skies;
Streams, darkly-winding, stretch a broader sway,
The groves and mountains bolder walks display:
A dread sublimity informs the whole,
And wakes a dread sublimity of soul.
Yet time and art shall other changes find,
And open still and vary still the mind;
The countless swarms that tread these dank abodes,
Who glean spontaneous fruits and range the woods,
Fix'd here for ages, in their swarthy face,
Display the wild complexion of the place.
Yet when their tribes to happy nations rise,
And earth by culture warms the genial skies,
A fairer tint and more majestic grace
Shall flush their features and exalt the race;
While milder arts, with social joys refined,
Inspire new beauties in the growing mind.
Thy followers too, fair Europe's noblest pride,
When future gales shall wing them o'er the tide,
A ruddier hue and deeper shade shall gain,
And stalk, in statelier figures, o'er the plain.
While nature's grandeur lifts the eye abroad
O'er these dread footsteps of the forming God;
Wing'd on a wider glance the venturous soul
Bids greater powers and bolder thoughts unroll;
The sage, the chief, the patriot, unconfined,
Shield the weak world and counsel for mankind.
But think not thou, in all the race of man,
That different pairs, in different climes, began;
Or tribes distinct, by signal marks confest,
Were born to serve or subjugate the rest.
The hero heard; But say, celestial Guide,
Who led the wanderers o'er the billowy tide?
Could these dark bands, unskill'd the paths to gain,
To build the bark, or cross the extended main,
Descry the coast, or tread the blest abode,
Unled, unguided by the hand of God?
When first thy roving race, the Power reply'd,
Learn'd by the stars the devious sail to guide,
From stormy Hellespont explored the way,
And sought the bound'ries of the midland sea;
Ere great Alcides form'd the impious plan,
To bound the sail and fix the range of man,
Driven from those rocky straits, a hapless train
Roll'd on the waves that sweep the western main,
While eastern storms the billowing skies o'ershade,
Nor sun nor stars afford their wonted aid.
For many a darksome day, o'erwhelm'd and tost,
Their sails, their oars in swallowing surges lost;
At length, the clouds withdrawn, they sad descry
Their course directing from their native sky;
No hope remains; while, o'er the flaming zone,
The winds still bear them with the circling sun;
Till the wild walks of this delightful coast
Receive to lonely seats the suffering host.
The fruitful plains invite their steps to roam,
Renounce their sorrows and forget their home;
Revolving years their ceaseless wanderings led,
And from their sons descending nations spread.
These round the south and middle regions stray,
Where cultured fields their growing arts display;
While northern tribes a later source demand,
And snow their wanderers from the Asian strand.
Far tow'rd the distant pole thy view extend;
See isles and shores and seas Pacific blend;
And that blue coast, where Amur's currents glide,
From thy own world a narrow frith divide;
There Tartar hosts for countless years, have sail'd,
And changing tribes the alternate regions hail'd.
He look'd: the opening shores beneath him spread,
And moving nations on the margin tread.
As, when autumnal storms awake their force,
The storks foreboding tempt their southern course;
From all the fields collecting throngs arise,
Mount on the wing and croud along the skies;
Thus, to his eye, from far Siberia's shore,
O'er isles and seas, the gathering people pour;
From those cold regions hail a happier strand,
Leap from the wave and tread the welcome land;
The growing tribes extend their southern sway,
And widely wander to a milder day.
But why; the chief return'd, if ages past
Have led these vagrants o'er the wilder'd waste–
If human souls, for social compact given,
Inform their nature with the stamp of heaven,
Why the dread glooms forever must they rove?
And no mild joys their temper'd passions move?
Ages remote and dark thou bring'st to light,
When the first leaders dared the western flight;
On other shores, in every eastern clime,
Since that unletter'd, distant tract of time,
What arts have shone! what empires found their place,
What golden sceptres sway'd the human race!
What guilt and grandeur from their seats been hurl'd,
And dire divulsions shook the changing world.
Ere Rome's bold eagle clave the affrighted air,
Ere Sparta form'd her death-like sons of war,
Ere proud Chaldea saw her greatness rise,
Or Memphian columns heaved against the skies;
These tribes have stray'd beneath the fruitful zone,
Their souls unpolish'd and their name unknown.
The Voice of heaven reply'd; A scanty band,
In that far age, approach'd the untrodden land.
Prolific wilds, with game and fruitage crown'd,
Supply'd their wishes from the uncultured ground.
By nature form'd to rove, the restless mind,
Of freedom fond, will ramble unconfined,
Till all the realm is fill'd, and rival right
Restrains their steps, and bids their force unite;
When common safety builds a common cause,
Conforms their interests and inspires their laws;
By mutual checks their different manners blend,
Their fields bloom joyous and their walls ascend.
Here, to their growing hosts, no bounds arose,
They claim'd no safeguard, as they fear'd no foes;
Round all the land their scattering sons must stray,
Ere arts could rise, or power extend the sway.
And what a world their mazy wanderings led!
What streams and wilds in boundless order spread!
See the shores lengthen, see the waters roll,
To each far main and each extended pole!
Yet circling years the destined course have run,
The realms are peopled and their arts begun.
Behold, where that mid region strikes the eyes,
A few fair cities glitter to the skies;
There move, in eastern pomp, the scenes of state,
And temples heave, magnificently great.
The hero look'd; when from the varying height,
Three growing splendors, rising on the sight,
Flamed like a constellation: high in view,
Ascending near, their opening glories drew;
In equal pomp, beneath their roofs of gold,
Three spiry towns, in blazing pride, unfold.
So, led by visions of the guiding God,
The sacred Seer, in Patmos' waste who trod,
Saw the dim vault of heaven its folds unbend,
And gates and spires and streets and domes descend;
With golden skies, and suns and rainbows crown'd,
The new-form'd city lights the world around.
Fair on the north, bright Mexico, arose,
A mimic morn her sparkling towers disclose,
An ample range the opening streets display,
Give back the sun and shed internal day;
The circling wall with sky-built turrets frown'd,
And look'd defiance to the realms around;
A glimmering lake, without the walls, retires,
Inverts the trembling towers and seems a grove of spires.
Bright, o'er the midst, on columns lifted high,
A rising structure claims a loftier sky;
O'er the tall gates sublimer arches bend,
Courts larger lengthen, bolder walks ascend,
Starr'd with superior gems, the porches shine,
And speak the royal residence within.
There, robed in state, high on a golden throne,
Mid suppliant kings, dread Montezuma shone:
Mild in his eye a temper'd grandeur sate,
Great seem'd his soul, with conscious power elate;
In aspect open, haughty and sincere,
Untamed by crosses and unknown to fear,
Of fraud incautious, credulous and vain,
Enclosed with favourites and of friends unseen.
Round the rich throne, with various lustre bright,
Gems undistinguish'd, cast a changing light;
Sapphires and emeralds deck the splendent scene,
Sky-tinctures mingling with the vernal green;
The ruby's blush, the amber's flames unfold,
And diamonds brighten from the burning gold;
Through all the dome the living blazes blend,
And cast their rainbows where the arches bend.
Wide round the walls, with mimic action gay,
In order ranged, historic figures stray,
And show, in Memphian style, with rival grace,
Their boasted chiefs and all their regal race.
Thro' the full gates, and round each ample street,
Unnumber'd throngs, in various concourse, meet,
Ply different toils, new walls and structures rear,
Or till the fields, or train the ranks of war.
Thro' spreading realms the skirts of empire bend,
New temples rise and other plains extend;
Thrice ten fair provinces, in culture gay,
Bless the same monarch and enlarge his sway.
A smile benignant kindling in his eyes,
Oh happy clime! the exulting hero cries;
Far in the midland, safe from foreign foes,
Thy joys shall ripen as thy grandeur grows,
To future years thy rising fame extend,
And sires of nations from thy sons descend.
May no gold-thirsty race thy temples tread,
Nor stain thy streams nor heap thy plains with dead;
No Bovadilla sieze the tempting spoil,
Ovando dark, or sacrilegious Boyle,
In mimic priesthood grave, or robed in state,
O'erwhelm thy glories in oblivious fate.
Vain are thy fondest hopes, the Power reply'd,
These rich abodes from ravening hosts to hide;
Teach harden'd guilt and cruelty to spare
The guardless prize, and check the waste of war.
Think not the vulture, o'er the field of slain,
Where base and brave promiscuous strow the plain,
Where the young hero, in the pride of charms,
Pours deeper crimson o'er his spotless arms,
Will pass the tempting prey, and glut his rage
On harder flesh, and carnage black with age;
O'er all alike he darts his eager eye,
Whets the dire beak and hovers down the sky,
From countless corses picks the dainty food,
And screams and fattens in the purest blood.
So the dire hosts, that trace thy daring way,
By gold allured to sail the unfathom'd sea,
Power all their aim and avarice all their joy,
Seize brightest realms and happiest tribes destroy.
Thine the dread task, O Cortez, here to show
What unknown crimes can heighten human woe,
On these fair fields the blood of realms to pour,
Tread sceptres down and print thy steps in gore,
With gold and carnage swell thy sateless mind,
And live and die the blackest of mankind.
Now see, from yon fair isle, his murdering band
Stream o'er the wave and mount the sated strand;
On the wild shore behold his fortress rise,
The fleet in flames ascends the darken'd skies.
The march begins; the nations, from afar,
Quake in his sight, and wage the fruitless war;
O'er the rich provinces he bends his way,
Kings in his chain, and kingdoms for his prey;
While, robed in peace, great Montezuma stands,
And crowns and treasures sparkle in his hands,
Proffers the empire, yields the sceptred sway,
Bids vassal'd millions tremble and obey;
And plies the victor, with incessant prayer,
Thro' ravaged realms the harmless race to spare.
But prayers and tears and sceptres plead in vain,
Nor threats can move him, nor a world restrain;
While blest religion's prostituted name,
And monkish fury guides the sacred flame:
O'er fanes and altars, fires unhallow'd bend,
Climb o'er the walls and up the towers ascend,
Pour, round the lowering skies, the smoky flood,
And whelm the fields, and quench their rage in blood.
The hero heard; and, with a heaving sigh,
Dropp'd the full tear that started in his eye,
Oh hapless day! his trembling voice reply'd,
That saw my wandering streamer mount the tide!
Oh! had the lamp of heaven, to that bold fail,
Ne'er mark'd the passage nor awaked the gale,
Taught eastern worlds these beauteous climes to find,
Nor led those tygers forth to curse mankind.
Then had the tribes, beneath these bounteous skies,
Seen their walls widen and their spires arise;
Down the long tracts of time their glory shone,
Broad as the day and lasting as the sun:
The growing realms, beneath thy shield that rest,
O hapless monarch, still thy power had blest,
Enjoy'd the pleasures that surround thy throne,
Survey'd thy virtues and sublimed their own.
Forgive me, prince; this impious arm hath led
The unseen storm that blackens o'er thy head;
Taught the dark sons of slaughter where to roam,
To seize thy crown and seal thy nation's doom.
Arm, sleeping empire, meet the daring band,
Drive back the terrors, save the sinking land–
Yet vain the strife! behold the sweeping flood!
Forgive me nature, and forgive me God.
Thus, from his heart, while speaking sorrows roll,
The Power, reproving, sooth'd his tender soul.
Father of this new world, thy tears give o'er,
Let virtue grieve and Heaven be blamed no more.
Enough for man, with persevering mind,
To act his part and strive to bless his kind;
Enough for thee, o'er thy dark age to rise,
With genius warm'd, and favour'd of the skies.
For this my guardian care thy youth inspired,
To virtue raised thee, and with glory fired,
Bade in thy plan each distant world unite,
And wing'd thy streamer for the adventurous flight.
Nor think no blessings shall thy toils attend,
Or these fell tyrants can defeat their end.
Such impious deeds, in Heaven's all-ruling plan,
Lead in disguise the noblest bliss of man.
Long have thy race, to narrow shores confined,
Trod the same round that cramp'd the roving mind;
Now, borne on bolder wings, with happier flight,
The world's broad bounds unfolding to the sight,
The mind shall soar; the nations catch the flame,
Enlarge their counsels and extend their fame;
While mutualities the social joys enhance,
And the last stage of civil rule advance.
Tho' impious ruffians spread their crimes abroad,
And o'er these empires pour the purple flood;
Tis thus religious rage, its own dire bane,
Shall fall at last, with all its millions slain,
And buried gold, drawn bounteous from the mine,
Give wings to commerce and the world refine.
Now to yon southern walls extend thy view,
And mark the rival seats of rich Peru.
There Quito's airy plains, exalted high,
With loftier temples rise along the sky;
And elder Cusco's richer roofs unfold,
Flame on the day and shed their suns of gold.
Another range, in these delightful climes,
Spreads a broad theatre for unborn crimes.
Another Cortez shall the treasures view,
The rage rekindle and the guilt renew;
His treason, fraud, and every dire decree,
O curst Pizarro, shall revive in thee.
There reigns a prince, whose hand the sceptre claims,
Thro' a long lineage of imperial names;
Where the brave roll of following Incas trace
The distant father of their realm and race,
Immortal Capac. He in youthful pride,
With fair Oella, his illustrious bride,
In virtuous guile, proclaim'd their birth begun,
From the pure splendors of their God, the sun;
With power and dignity a throne to found,
Fix the mild sway and spread their arts around;
Crush the dire Gods that human victims claim,
And point all worship to a nobler name;
With cheerful rites, the due devotions pay
To the bright beam, that gives the changing day.
On this fair plan, the children of the skies
Bade, in the wild, a growing empire rise;
Beneath their hand, and sacred to their fame,
Rose yon fair walls, that meet the solar flame.
Succeeding sovereigns spread their bounds afar,
By arts of peace and temper'd force of war;
Till these surrounding realms the sceptre own,
And grateful millions hail the genial sun.
Behold, in yon fair lake, a beauteous isle,
Where fruits and flowers, in rich profusion smile;
High in the midst a sacred temple rise,
Seat of the sun, and pillar of the skies.
The roofs of burnish'd gold, the blazing spires
Light the glad heavens and lose their upward fires;
Fix'd in the flaming front, with living ray,
A diamond circlet gives the rival day;
In whose bright face forever looks abroad
The radiant image of the beaming God.
Round the wide courts, and in the solemn dome,
A white-robed train of holy virgins bloom;
Their pious hands the sacred rites require,
To grace the offerings, and preserve the fire.
On this blest isle, with flowery garlands crown'd,
That ancient pair, in charms of youth, were found,
Whose union'd souls the mighty plan design'd,
To bless the nations and reform mankind.
The hero heard, and thus the Power besought;
What arts unknown the wonderous blessings wrought?
What human skill, in that benighted age,
In savage souls could quell the barbarous rage?
With leagues of peace combine the wide domain?
And teach the virtues in their laws to reign?
Long is their story, said the Power divine,
The labours great and glorious the design;
And tho' to earthly minds, their actions rest,
By years obscured, in flowery fiction drest,
Yet my glad voice shall wake their honour'd name,
And give their virtues to immortal fame.
Led by his father's wars, in early prime,
Young Capac wander'd from a northern clime;
Along these shores, with livelier verdure gay,
Thro' fertile vales, the adventurous armies stray.
He saw the tribes unnumber'd range the plain,
And rival chiefs, by rage and slaughter, reign;
He saw the sires their dreadful Gods adore,
Their altars staining with their children's gore;
Yet mark'd their reverence for the Sun, whose beam
Proclaims his bounties and his power supreme;
Who sails in happier skies, diffusing good,
Demands no victim and receives no blood.
In peace returning with his conquering sire,
Fair glory's charms his youthful soul inspire;
With virtue warm'd, he fix'd the generous plan,
To build his greatness on the bliss of man.
By nature formed to daring deeds of fame,
Tall, bold and beauteous rose his stately frame;
Strong moved his limbs, a mild majestic grace
Beam'd from his eyes and open'd in his face;
O'er the dark world his mind superior shone,
And, soaring, seem'd the semblance of the sun.
Now fame's prophetic visions lift his eyes,
And future empires from his labours rise;
Yet softer fires his daring views controul,
Sway the warm wish and fill the changing soul.
Shall the bright genius, kindled from above,
Bend to the milder, gentler voice of love;
That bounds his glories, and forbids to part
From that calm bower, that held his glowing heart?
Or shall the toils, imperial heroes claim,
Fire his bold bosom with a patriot flame?
Bid sceptres wait him on the distant shore?
And blest Oella meet his eyes no more?
Retiring pensive, near the wonted shade,
His unseen steps approach the beauteous maid.
Her raven-locks roll on her heaving breast,
And wave luxuriant round her slender waist,
Gay wreaths of flowers her lovely brows adorn,
And her white raiment mocks the pride of morn.
Her busy hand sustains a bending bough,
Where woolly clusters spread their robes of snow,
From opening pods, unbinds the fleecy store,
And culls her labours for the evening bower.
Her sprightly soul, by deep invention led,
Had found the skill to turn the twisting thread,
To spread the woof, the shuttle to command,
Till various garments graced her forming hand.
Here, while her thoughts with her own Capac rove,
O'er former scenes of innocence and love,
Through many a field his fancied dangers share,
And wait him glorious from the distant war;
Blest with the ardent wish, her glowing mind
A snowy vesture for the prince design'd;
She seeks the purest wool, to web the fleece,
The sacred emblem of returning peace.
Sudden his near approach her breast alarms;
He flew enraptured to her yielding arms,
And lost, dissolving in a softer name,
The distant empire and the fire of fame.
At length, retiring o'er the homeward field,
Their mutual minds to happy converse yield,
O'er various scenes of blissful life they ran,
When thus the warrior to the fair began.
Joy of my life, thou know'st my roving mind,
With these grim tribes, in dark abodes, confined,
With grief hath mark'd what vengeful passions sway
The bickering bands, and sweep the race away.
Where late my distant steps the war pursued,
The fertile plains grew boundless as I view'd;
Increasing nations trod the waving wild,
And joyous nature more delightful smiled.
No changing seasons there the flowers deform,
No dread volcano, and no mountain storm;
Rains ne'er invade, nor livid lightnings play,
Nor clouds obscure the radiant Power of day.
But, while the God, in ceaseless glory bright,
Rolls o'er the day and fires his stars by night,
Unbounded fulness flows beneath his reign,
Seas yield their treasures, fruits adorn the plain;
Warm'd by his beam, their mountains pour the flood,
And the cool breezes wake beneath the God.
My anxious thoughts indulge the great design,
To form those nations to a sway divine;
Destroy the rights of every dreadful Power,
Whose crimson altars glow with human gore;
To laws and mildness teach the realms to yield,
And nobler fruits to grace the cultured field.
But great, my charmer, is the task of fame,
The countless tribes to temper and to tame.
Full many a spacious wild my soul must see,
Spread dreary bounds between my joys and me;
And yon bright Godhead circle many a year;
Each lonely evening number'd with a tear.
Long robes of white my shoulders must embrace,.
To speak my lineage of ethereal race;
That wondering tribes may tremble, and obey
The radiant offspring of the Power of day.
And when thro' cultured fields their bowers encrease,
And streams and plains survey the works of peace,
When these glad hands the rod of nations claim,
And happy millions bless thy Capac's name,
Then shall he feign a journey to the Sun,
To bring the partner of the peaceful throne;
So shall descending kings the line sustain,
And unborn ages bloom beneath their reign.
Will then my fair, in that delightful hour,
Forsake these wilds and hail a happier bower?
And now consenting, with approving smiles,
Bid the young warrior tempt the daring toils?
And, sweetly patient, wait the flight of days,
That crown our labours with immortal praise?
Silent the fair one heard; her moistening eye
Spoke the full soul, nor could her voice reply;
Till softer accents sooth'd her listening ear,
Composed her tumult and allay'd her fear.
Think not, enchanting maid, my steps would part,
While silent sorrows heave that tender heart:
More dear to me are blest Oella's joys,
Than all the lands that bound the bending skies;
Nor thou, bright Sun, should'st bribe my soul to rest,
And leave one struggle in her lovely breast.
Yet think in those vast climes, my gentle fair,
What hapless millions claim our guardian care;
How age to age leads on the dreadful gloom,
And rage and slaughter croud the untimely tomb;
No social joys their wayward passions prove,
Nor peace nor pleasure treads the savage grove;
Mid thousand heroes and a thousand fair,
No fond Oella meets her Capac there.
Yet, taught by thee each nobler joy to prize,
With softer charms the virgin race shall rise,
Awake new virtues, every grace improve,
And form their minds for happiness and love.
Behold, where future years, in pomp, descend,
How worlds and ages on thy voice depend!
And, like the Sun, whose all-delighting ray
O'er those mild borders sheds serenest day,
Diffuse thy bounties, give my steps to rove,
A few short months the noble task to prove,
And, swift return'd from glorious toils, declare
What realms submissive wait our fostering care.
And will my prince, my Capac, borne away,
Thro' those dark wilds, in quest of empire, stray?
Where tygers fierce command the howling wood,
And men like tygers thirst for human blood.
Think'st thou no dangerous deed the course attends?
Alone, unaided by thy sire and friends?
Even chains and death may meet my rover there,
Nor his last groan could reach Oella's ear.
But chains, nor death, nor groans shall Capac prove,
Unknown to her, while she has power to rove.
Close by thy side where'er thy wanderings stray,
My equal steps shall measure all the way;
With borrow'd soul each dire event I'll dare,
Thy toils to lessen and thy dangers share.
Command, blest chief, since virtue bids thee go
To rule the realms and banish human woe,
Command these hands two snowy robes to weave,
The Sun to mimic and the tribes deceive;
Then let us range, and spread the peaceful sway,
The radiant children of the Power of day.
The lovely counsel pleased. The smiling chief
Approved her courage and dispel'd her grief;
Then to the distant bower in haste they move,
Begin their labours and prepare to rove.
Soon grow the robes beneath her forming care,
And the fond parents wed the noble pair;
But, whelm'd in grief, beheld, the approaching dawn,
Their joys all vanish'd, and their children gone.
Nine changing days, thro' southern wilds, they stray'd,
Now wrapp'd in glooms, now gleaming thro' the glade,
Till the tenth morning, with an orient smile,
Beheld them blooming in the happy isle.
The toil begins; to every neighbouring band,
They speak the message and their faith demand;
With various art superior powers display,
To prove their lineage and confirm their sway.
The astonish'd tribes behold with glad surprize,
The Gods descended from the favouring skies;
Adore their persons, robed in shining white,
Receive their laws and leave each horrid rite;
Build with assisting toil, the golden throne,
And hail and bless the sceptre of the Sun.
Comments about this poem (Vision of Columbus – Book 2 by Joel Barlow )
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