Joel Barlow (24 March 1754 – 26 December 1812 / Redding, Connecticut)
Vision Of Columbus - Book 5
Columbus hail'd them with a father's smile,
Fruits of his cares and children of his toil;
With tears of joy, while still his eyes descried
Their course adventurous o'er the distant tide.
Thus, when o'er deluged earth her Seraph stood,
The tost ark bounding on the shoreless flood,
The sacred treasure claim'd his guardian view,
While climes unnoticed in the wave withdrew.
He saw the squadrons reach the rising strand,
Leap from the wave and share the joyous land;
Receding forests yield the heroes room,
And opening wilds with fields and gardens bloom.
Fill'd with the glance extatic, all his soul
Now seems unbounded with the scene to roll,
And now, impatient, with retorted eye,
Perceives his station in another sky.
Waft me, O winged Angel, waft me o'er,
With those blest heroes, to the happy shore;
There let me live and die–but all appears
A fleeting vision; these are future years.
Yet grant in nearer view the climes may spread,
And my glad steps may seem their walks to tread;
While eastern coasts and kingdoms, wrapp'd in night,
Arise no more to intercept the sight.
The hero spoke; the Angel's powerful hand
Moves brightening o'er the visionary land;
The height, that bore them, still sublimer grew,
And earth's whole circuit settled from their view:
A dusky Deep, serene as breathless even,
Seem'd vaulting downward, like another heaven;
The sun, rejoicing on his western way,
Stamp'd his fair image in the inverted day:
Sudden, the northern shores again drew nigh,
And life and action fill'd the hero's eye.
Where the dread Laurence breaks his passage wide,
Where Missisippi's milder currents glide,
Where midland realms their swelling mountainsheave,
And slope their champaigns to the distant wave,
On the green banks, and o'er the extended plain,
Rise into sight the happiest walks of man.
The placid ports, that break the billowing gales,
Rear their tall masts and stretch their whitening sails;
The harvests wave, the groves with fruitage bend,
And bulwarks heave, and spiry domes ascend;
Fair works of peace in growing splendor rise,
And grateful earth repays the bounteous skies.
Till war invades; when opening vales disclose,
In moving crouds, the savage tribes of foes;
High tufted quills their painted foreheads press,
Dark spoils of beasts their shaggy shoulders dress,
The bow bent forward, for the combat strung,
The ax, the quiver on the girdle hung;
The deep, discordant yells convulse the air,
And the wild waste resounds approaching war.
The hero look'd; and every darken'd height
Pours down the dusky squadrons to the fight.
Where Kennebec's high source forsakes the sky,
Where deep Champlain's extended waters lie,
Where the bold Hudson leads his shadowy tide,
Where Kaatskill-heights the azure vault divide,
Where the dim Alleganies range sublime,
And give their streams to every distant clime,
The swarms descended, like an evening shade,
And wolves and vultures follow'd where they spread.
Thus when a storm, on eastern pinions driven,
Meets the firm Andes in the midst of heaven,
The clouds convulse, the torrents pour amain,
And the black waters sweep the subject plain.
Thro' cultured fields, the bloody myriads spread,
Sack the lone village, strow the streets with dead;
The flames aspire, the smoky volumes rise,
And shrieks and shouts redouble round the skies;
Fair babes and matrons in their domes expire,
Or burst their passage thro' the folding fire;
O'er woods and plains, promiscuous rave along
The yelling victors and the driven throng;
The streams run purple; all the extended shore
Is wrapp'd in flames and trod with steps of gore.
Till numerous hosts, collecting from afar,
Exalt the standard and oppose the war,
Point their loud thunders on the shouting foe,
And brave the shafted terrors of the bow.
When, like a broken wave, the savage train
Lead back the flight and scatter o'er the plain,
Slay their weak captives, leave their shafts in haste,
Forget their spoils and scour the distant waste.
As, when the morning sun begins his way,
The shadows vanish where he gives the day;
So the dark tribes, from brighter regions hurl'd,
Sweep o'er the heights and lakes, far thro' the wilder'd world.
Now move in nobler pomp the toils of peace
New temples rise and splendid towers increase.
He saw, where Penn his peaceful thousands led,
A spreading town bright Del'ware's waves o'ershade;
The crossing streets in fair proportion run,
The walls and pavements sparkle to the sun.
Like that famed city, rose the beauteous plan,
Whose spacious bounds Semiramis began;
Long ages finish'd what her hand design'd,
The pride of kings and wonder of mankind.
Where labouring Hudson's glassy current strays,
York's growing walls their splendid turrets raise,
Albania rising in her midland pride,
Rolls her rich treasures on his lengthening tide;
Fair in her circling streams blest Newport laves,
And Boston opens o'er the subject waves;
On southern shores, where happier currents glide,
The banks bloom gay, and cities grace their side;
Like morning clouds, that tinge their skirts with gold,
Bright Charleston's roofs and sparkling spires unfold.
Thro' each extended realm, in wisdom great,
Rose the dread sires, that claim the cares of state;
Long robes of purest white their forms embrace,
Their better hands imperial sceptres grace,
Their left the laws, that shining leaves infold,
Where rights and charters flame in figured gold.
High on a seat, that opening crouds disclose,
Blest Baltimore, from toils and dangers, rose;
The sacred Cross, before his kindling eyes,
From foes defended, and of peace the prize,
Waves o'er the host; who catch the liberal flame,
Partake the freedom and extend the fame,
With port majestic, rising to his throne,
Immortal Penn, in rival lustre shone,
Dispensing justice to the train below,
Peace in his voice and firmness on his brow.
Another croud sees generous Belcher stand,
And gains new glory from his liberal hand;
He aids the toil, and still exalts the plan,
Patron of science, liberty and man,
With steady step, bold Winthrop towers along,
Waves the bright wand and cheers the noble throng;
Beneath his firm, unalterable sway,
Fair Virtue reigns, and grateful realms obey.
While other forms, the rising states around,
By wisdom graced, with equal honours crown'd,
Trail the long robe, extend the sceptred hand,
Drive guilt and slavery from the joyous land,
Bid arts and culture, wealth and wisdom rise,
Friends of mankind and favourites of the skies.
Up the wild streams, that bound the hero's view,
Great Gallia's sons their western course pursue;
On fertile banks fair towns and villas rose,
That dared the vengeance of surrounding foes.
Here cold Canadia round her Laurence spread,
And raised her cities o'er his watery glade;
There Louisiana's happier borders run,
Spread fairer lawns and feel a purer sun;
While the glad lakes and broad Ohio's stream
Seem smiling conscious of approaching same.
Now larger barks pursue their rapid course,
Unite their labours and extend their force;
Beneath their listed sails, arise in sight
White flags display'd and armies robed in white;
Through the deep midland waste, they stream afar,
And threat weak realms with desolating war.
Where proud Quebec exalts her rocky seat,
They range their camp and spread the frowning fleet,
Lead conquering legions, western wilds to brave,
Raise lone Oswago o'er the untraversed wave;
While other squadrons tempt another flood,
And dark Ohio swells beneath the load.
When, fierce, from Albion's coast, a warlike train
Moves o'er the sea, and treads the dusky plain;
Swift to their aid, from all the crouded strand,
Rise, bright in arms, the wide colonial band;
They join their force; and, tow'rd the falling day,
The same bold banners lead their dreadful way;
O'er Allagany-heights, like streams of fire,
The red flags wave and glittering arms aspire;
Beyond the hills, where, o'er the lonely flood,
A hostile fortress spreads its bounds abroad,
They bend the venturous march; the host within
Behold their danger, and the strife begin.
From the full bursting gates, the sweeping train
Pour forth the war and hide the sounding plain;
The opposing squadrons, ranged in order bright,
Wait the dire shock and kindle for the fight;
The batteries blaze, the moving vollies pour,
The shuddering vales and echoing mountains roar;
Clouds of convolving smoke the welkin spread,
Shroud the wide champaign, and the hills o'ershade.
Lost in the rocking thunder's loud career,
No shouts or groans invade the hero's ear,
Nor val'rous feats are seen, nor flight, nor fall,
While deep-surrounding darkness buries all.
Till, driv'n by rising winds, the clouds withdrew,
And oped the spreading slaughter to his view;
He saw the British leader, borne afar,
In dust and gore beyond the wings of war;
Saw the long ranks of foes his host surround,
His chiefs confused, his squadrons press the ground;
As, hemm'd on every side, the trembling train
Nor dare the fight, nor can they flee the plain.
But, while conflicting tumult thinn'd the host,
Their flags, their arms in wild confusion tost,
Bold in the midst a blooming warrior strode,
And tower'd undaunted o'er the field of blood,
In desperate toils with rising vengeance burn'd,
And the pale squadrons brighten'd where he turn'd.
As, when thick vapors veil the evening sky,
And starry hosts, in half-seen lustre fly,
Bright Hesper shines o'er all the twinkling croud,
And gives new splendor thro' the opening cloud.
Fair on a firey steed, sublime he rose,
Wedg'd the firm files and eyed the circling foes;
Then waved his gleamy sword, that flash'd the day,
And, thro' dread legions, hew'd the rapid way,
His hosts roll forward, like an angry flood,
Sweep ranks away and smear their paths in blood;
The hovering foes pursue the strife afar,
And shower their balls along the flying war;
When the brave leader turns his sweeping force,
Points the flight forward–speeds his backward course;
The foes fly scattering where his arm is wheel'd,
And his firm train treads safely o'er the field.
While these fierce toils the pensive chief descried,
With anxious thought he thus address'd the guide;
These numerous throngs, in robes of white array'd,
From Gallia's shores the peaceful bounds invade,
And there Britannia's standard waves sublime,
In crimson pomp to shield the friendly clime.
Why here, in vengeance, roll the furious bands?
And strow their corses o'er these pathless lands?
Can Europe's realms, the seat of endless strife,
Afford no trophies for the waste of life?
Can monarchs there no proud applauses gain?
No living laurel for their subjects slain?
Nor Belgia's plains so fertile made with gore,
Hide heroes' bones nor feast the vultures more?
Danube and Rhine no more their currents stain,
Nor sweep the slaughter'd myriads to the main?
That infant empires here the rage must feel,
And these pure streams with foreign carnage swell.
But who the chief, that closed in firm array
The baffled legions and restored the day?
There shines, in veteran skill and youthful charms,
The boast of nature and the pride of arms.
The Power replied; In each successive age,
Their different views thy varying race engage.
Here roll the years, when Albion's generous host,
Leagued with thy children, guard the invaded coast;
That infant states their veteran force may train,
And nobler toils in later fields sustain;
When future foes superior banners wave,
The realms to ravage and the race enslave.
Here toils brave Albion with the sons of Gaul;
Here hapless Braddock finds his destined fall;
Thy greatest son, in that young martial frame,
From yon lost field begins a life of fame.
Tis he, in future strife and darker days,
Desponding states to sovereign rule shall raise,
When the weak empire, in his arm, shall find
The sword, the shield, the bulwark of mankind.
The Seraph spoke; when thro' the purpled air,
The northern squadrons spread the flames of war:
O'er dim Champlain, and thro' surrounding groves
Rash Abercrombie, mid his thousands, moves
To fierce unequal strife; the batteries roar,
Shield the grim foes and rake the banner'd shore;
His fainting troops the dreadful contest yield,
And heaps of carnage strow the fatal field.
While glorious Amherst on a distant isle,
Leads a bold legion, and renews the toil;
High flame the ships, the billows swell with gore,
And the red standard shades the conquer'd shore.
And lo, a British host, unbounded spread,
O'er sealike Laurence, casts a moving shade;
On lessening tides, they hold their fearless flight,
Till rocky walls salute their longing sight.
They tread the shore, the arduous conflict claim,
Rise the tall mountain, like a rolling flame,
Stretch their wide wings in circling onset far,
And move to fight, as clouds of heaven at war.
The smoke falls folding thro' the downward sky,
And shrouds the mountain from the hero's eye;
While on the burning top, in open day,
The flashing swords, in fiery arches, play.
As on a ridgy storm, in terrors driven,
The forky flames curl round the vault of heaven,
The thunders break, the bursting torrents flow,
And flood the air, and whelm the hills below;
Or, as on plains of light, when Michael strove,
And swords of Cherubim to combat move;
Ten thousand fiery forms together play,
And flash new lightning on empyreal day.
Long raged promiscuous combat, half conceal'd;
When sudden parle suspended all the field;
Thick groans succeed, the cloud forsakes the plain,
And the high hill is topp'd with heaps of slain.
Now, proud in air, the conquering standard waved,
And shouting hosts proclaim'd a country saved;
While, calm and silent, where the ranks retire,
He saw brave Wolfe, in pride of youth, expire.
So the pale moon, when morning beams arise,
Veils her lone visage in the silent skies;
Required no more to drive the shades away,
Nor waits to view the glories of the day.
Again the towns aspire, the cultured field
And blooming vale their copious treasures yield;
The grateful hind his cheerful labour proves,
And songs of triumph fill the warbling groves;
The conscious flocks, returning joys that share,
Spread thro' the midland, o'er the walks of war:
When, borne on eastern winds, dark vapors rise,
And sail and lengthen round the western skies;
Veil all the vision from his anxious sight,
And wrap the climes in universal night.
The hero grieved, and thus besought the Power
Why sinks the scene? or must I view no more?
Must here the fame of that fair world descend?
And my brave children find so soon their end?
Where then the word of Heaven, Mine eyes should see
That half mankind should owe their bliss to me?
The Power replied; Ere long, in happier view,
The realms shall brighten, and thy joys renew.
The years advance, when round the thronging shore,
They rise confused to change the source of power;
When Albion's Prince, that sway'd the happy land,
Shall stretch, to lawless rule, the sovereign hand;
To bind in slavery's chains the peaceful host,
Their rights unguarded and their charters lost.
Now raise thine eye; from this delusive claim,
What glorious deeds adorn their growing fame!
Columbus look'd; and still around them spread,
From south to north, the immeasurable shade;
At last, the central shadows burst away,
And rising regions open'd on the day.
He saw, once more, bright Del'ware's silver stream.
And Penn's throng'd city cast a cheerful gleam:
The dome of state, that met his eager eye,
Now heaved its arches in a loftier sky;
The bursting gates unfold; and lo, within,
A solemn train, in conscious glory, shine.
The well-known forms his eye had traced before,
In different realms along the extended shore;
Here, graced with nobler fame, and robed in state,
They look'd and moved magnificently great.
High on the foremost seat, in living light,
Majestic Randolph caught the hero's sight:
Fair on his head, the civic crown was placed,
And the first dignity his sceptre graced.
He opes the cause, and points in prospect far,
Thro' all the toils that wait the impending war–
But, hapless sage, thy reign must soon be o'er,
To lend thy lustre and to shine no more.
So the bright morning star, from shades of even,
Leads up the dawn, and lights the front of heaven,
Points to the waking world the sun's broad way,
Then veils his own and shines above the day.
And see great Washington behind thee rise,
Thy following sun, to gild our morning skies;
O'er shadowy climes to pour the enlivening flame,
The charms of freedom and the fire of fame.
The ascending chief adorn'd his splendid seat,
Like Randolph, ensign'd with a crown of state;
Where the green patriot bay beheld, with pride,
The hero's laurel springing by its side;
His sword hung useless, on his graceful thigh,
On Britain still he cast a filial eye;
But sovereign fortitude his visage bore,
To meet their legions on the invaded shore.
Sage Franklin next arose, in awful mein,
And smiled, unruffled, o'er the approaching scene;
High on his locks of age a wreath was braced,
Palm of all arts, that e'er a mortal graced;
Beneath him lies the sceptre kings have borne,
And crowns and laurels from their temples torn,
Nash, Rutledge, Jefferson, in council great,
And Jay and Laurens oped the rolls of fate;
The Livingstons, fair Freedom's generous band,
The Lees, the Houstons, fathers of the land,
O'er climes and kingdoms turn'd their ardent eyes,
Bade all the oppress'd to speedy vengeance rise;
All powers of state, in their extended plan,
Rise from consent to shield the rights of man.
Bold Wolcott urged the all-important cause;
With steady hand the solemn scene he draws;
Undaunted firmness with his wisdom join'd,
Nor kings nor worlds could warp his stedfast mind.
Now, graceful rising from his purple throne,
In radiant robes, immortal Hosmer shone;
Myrtles and bays his learned temples bound,
The statesman's wreath the poet's garland crown'd,
Morals and laws expand his liberal soul,
Beam from his eyes and in his accents roll.
But lo, an unseen hand the curtain drew,
And snatch'd the patriot from the hero's view;
Wrapp'd in the shroud of death, he sees descend
The guide of nations and the Muses' friend.
Columbus dropp'd a tear; the Angel's eye
Traced the freed spirit mounting thro' the sky.
Adams, enraged, a broken charter bore,
And lawless acts of ministerial power;
Some injured right, in each loose leaf appears,
A king in terrors and a land in tears;
From all the guileful plots the veil he drew,
With eye retortive look'd creation thro',
Oped the wide range of nature's boundless plan,
Traced all the steps of liberty and man;
Crouds rose to vengeance while his accents rung,
And Independence thunder'd from his tongue.
The hero turn'd. And tow'rd the crouded coast,
Rose on the wave a wide-extended host,
They shade the main and spread their sails abroad,
From the wide Laurence to the Georgian flood,
Point their black batteries to the approaching shore,
And bursting flames begin the hideous roar.
Where guardless Falmouth, looking o'er the bay,
Beheld, unmoved, the stormy thunders play,
The fire begins; the shells o'er-arching fly,
And shoot a thousand rainbows thro' the sky;
On Charlestown spires, on Bristol roofs, they light,
Groton and Fairfield kindle from the flight,
Fair Kingston burns, and York's delightful fanes,
And beauteous Norfolk lights the neighbouring plains,
From realm to realm, the smoky volumes bend,
Reach round the bays and up the streams extend;
Deep o'er the concave heavy wreaths are roll'd,
And midland towns and distant groves infold.
Thro' the dark curls of smoke the winged fires
Climb in tall pyramids, above the spires;
Cinders, high-sailing, kindle heaven around,
And falling structures shake the smouldering ground.
Now, where the sheeted flames thro' Charlestown roar
And lashing waves hiss round the burning shore,
Thro' the deep folding fires, a neighbouring height
Thunders o'er all and seems a field of fight.
Like shadowy phantoms in an evening grove,
To the dark strife the closing squadrons move;
They join, they break, they thicken thro' the air,
And blazing batteries burst along the war;
Now, wrapp'd in reddening smoke, now dim in sight,
They sweep the hill or wing the downward flight;
Here, wheel'd and wedg'd, whole ranks together turn,
And the long lightnings from their pieces burn,
There, scattering flashes light the scanty train,
And broken squadrons tread the moving plain.
Britons in fresh battalions rise the height,
And, with increasing vollies, give the fight.
Till, smear'd with clouds of dust, and bath'd in gore,
As growing foes their raised artillery pour,
Columbia's hosts move o'er the fields afar,
And save, by slow retreat, the sad remains of war.
There strides bold Putnam, and from all the plains,
Calls the tired host, the tardy rear sustains,
And, mid the whizzing deaths that fill the air,
Waves back his sword and dares the following war.
Thro' falling fires, Columbus sees remain
Half of each host in heaps promiscuous slain;
While dying crouds the lingering life-blood pour,
And slippery steeps are trod with prints of gore.
There, hapless Warren, thy cold earth was seen,
There spring thy laurels in immortal green;
Dearest of chiefs, that ever press'd the plain,
In Freedom's cause, with early honours, slain,
Still dear in death, as when in fight you moved,
By hosts applauded and by Heaven approved;
The faithful Muse shall tell the world thy fame,
And unborn realms resound the immortal name.
Now, from all plains, as smoky wreaths decay,
Unnumber'd shapes start forward to the affray;
Tall, thro' the lessening shadows, half conceal'd,
They glide and gather in a central field;
There, stretch'd immense, like lengthening groves they stand,
Eye the dark foe and eager strife demand.
High in the frowning front, exalted shone
A hero, pointing tow'rd the half-seen sun;
As, thro' the mist the bursting splendors glow,
And light the passage to the distant foe;
His waving steel returns the living day,
Clears the broad plains and marks the warrior's way;
The long, deep squadrons range in order bright,
And move impatient for the promised fight.
When great Columbus saw the chief arise,
And his bold blade cast lightning on the skies,
He traced the form that met his view before,
On drear Ohio's desolated shore.
Matured with years, with nobler glory warm,
Fate in his eye, and vengeance on his arm.
The great Observer here with joy beheld
The hero moving in a broader field.
Unnumber'd chiefs around their leader stand,
Fired by his voice, and guided by his hand,
Now on his steps their raptured eye-balls glow,
And now roll dreadful on the approaching foe.
There rose brave Greene, in all the strength of arms,
Unmoved and brightening as the danger warms;
In counsel great, in every science skill'd,
Pride of the camp and terror of the field.
With eager look, conspicuous o'er the croud,
The daring port of great Montgomery strode;
Bared the bright blade, with honour's call elate,
Claim'd the first field, and hasten'd to his fate.
Calm Lincoln next, with unaffected mein,
In dangers daring, active and serene,
Careless of pomp, with steady greatness shone,
Sparing of others' blood and liberal of his own.
Heath, for the impending strife, his falchion draws;
And fearless Wooster aids the sacred cause.
There stood stern Putnam, seam'd with many a scar,
The veteran honours of an earlier war;
Undaunted Stirling, dreadful to his foes,
And Gates and Sullivan to vengeance rose;
While brave M'Dougall, steady and sedate,
Stretch'd the nerved arm to ope the scene of fate.
Howe moved with rapture to the toils of fame,
And Schuyler still adorn'd an honour'd name;
Parsons and Smallwood lead their daring bands,
And bold St. Clair in front of thousands stands.
There gallant Knox his moving engines brings
Mounted and graved, the last resort of kings;
The long, black rows in dreadful order wait,
Their grim jaws gaping soon to utter fate;
When, at his word, the red-wing'd clouds shall rise,
And the deep thunders rock the shores and skies.
Beneath a waving sword, in blooming prime,
Fayette moves graceful, ardent and sublime;
In foreign guise, in freedom's noble cause,
His untried blade the youthful hero draws;
On the great chief his eyes in transport roll,
And fame and Washington inspire his soul.
Steuben advanced, in veteran armour drest,
The noble ensign beaming on his breast;
From rank to rank, in eager haste, he flew,
And marshall'd hosts in dread arrangement drew
Morris, in aid, with open coffers stood,
And Wadsworth, patron of the brave and good.
While other chiefs and heirs of deathless fame
Rise into sight, and equal honours claim;
But who can tell the dew-drops of the morn?
Or count the rays that in the diamond burn?
Now, the broad field as gathering squadrons shade,
The sun's glad beam their shining ranks display'd;
The glorious leader waved his glittering steel,
Bade the long train in circling order wheel;
And while the banner'd hosts around him roll,
Thus into thousands speaks the warrior's soul:
Ye patriot chiefs, and every daring band,
That lift the steel or tread the invaded strand,
Behold the task! these beauteous realms to save,
Or yield whole nations to an instant grave.
See the dark squadrons moving to the shore,
Hear, from all ports, their boasted thunders roar:
O'er bloody plains, from Charlestown-heights, they stray,
O'er far Champlain they lead their northern way,
Virginian banks behold their streamers glide,
And hostile navies load each southern tide.
Beneath their steps your smouldering temples lie,
And wreaths of smoke o'ercast the reddening sky.
With eager stride they tempt a nobler prize;
These boundless empires feast their envious eyes;
They see your fields to lordly manors turn'd,
Your children butcher'd and your villas burn'd;
While following millions, thro' the reign of time,
That claim their birth in this indulgent clime,
Bend the weak knee, in servile chains confined;
And sloth and slavery overwhelm mankind.
Rise then to war, to noble vengeance rise,
Ere the grey sire, the helpless infant dies;
Look thro' the world, where endless years descend,
What realms, what ages on your arms depend!
Reverse the fate, avenge the insulted sky;
Move to the strife, we conquer or we die.
While thus he spoke, the furious files advance,
And fiercer lightnings o'er the champaign dance.
At once, the different skirts are wheel'd, afar,
In different realms, to meet the distant war.
With his dread host, Montgomery issues forth,
And lights his passage thro' the dusky north;
O'er streams and lakes his conquering banners play,
Navies and forts, surrendering, mark his way;
Thro' desert wilds, o'er rocks and fens, they go,
And hills before them, lose their craggs in snow;
Unbounded toils they brave; when rise in sight
Quebec's dread walls, and Wolfe's still dreary height;
They climb the steep, he eyes the turrets round,
With piked hosts and dark artillery crown'd,
The daring onset points; and, high in air,
O'er rocky ramparts leads the dreadful war.
As wreaths of morning mist ascend on high
Up the tall mountain's side, and reach the sky,
So rose the rapid host; the walls are red
With flashing flames; down roll the heaps of dead;
Now back recoil the ranks, o'er squadrons slain,
And leave their leader, with a scanty train,
Closed in the circling terrors of the wall,
Where round his arm the hostile legions fall.
Through the wide streets, collecting from afar,
The foes in shouting squadrons urged the war,
The smoke convolved, the thunders rock'd around,
And the brave hero prest the gorey ground.
Another Wolfe Columbus here beheld,
In youthful charms, a soul undaunted yield:
But lost, o'erpower'd, his hardy host remains,
Stretch'd by his side, or led in captive chains.
Now the bright Angel turn'd the hero's eye,
In other realms, where other standards fly;
Where the great leader, mid surrounding foes,
Still greater rises, as the danger grows;
And wearied ranks, o'er weltering warriors slain,
Attend his course thro' many a crimson'd plain.
From Hudson's banks, along the dreary strand,
He guards in firm retreat, his feeble band;
While countless foes, with British Howe advance,
Bend o'er his rear and point the lifted lance;
O'er Del'ware's frozen wave, with scanty force,
He lifts the sword and points the backward course,
Wings the dire vengeance on the shouting train,
And leads whole squadrons in the captive chain;
Where vaunting foes to half their numbers yield,
Tread back the flight, or press the fatal field.
While, mid the furious strife, brave Mercer strode,
And seal'd the victory with his streaming blood.
Now, where dread Laurence mingles with the main,
Rose, on the widening wave, a hostile train:
From shore to shore, along the unfolding skies,
Beneath full sails, the approaching squadrons rise;
High waving on the right, red banners dance,
And British legions o'er the decks advance;
While at their side an azure flag, display'd,
Leads a long host, in German robes array'd
Tall on the boldest bark, superior shone
A warrior, ensign'd with a various crown;
Myrtles and laurels equal honours join'd,
Which arms had purchased and the Muses twined;
His sword waved forward, and his ardent eye
Seem'd sharing empires in the southern sky.
Beside him rose a herald, to proclaim
His various honours, titles, feats and fame;
Who raised an opening scroll, where proudly shone
Pardon to realms and nations yet unknown.
Champlain receives the congregated host,
And his dark waves, beneath the sails, are lost;
St. Clair beholds; and, with his scanty train,
In firm retreat, o'er many a fatal plain,
Lures their wild march.–Wide moves their furious force,
Where flaming hamlets mark their wasting course;
Thro' pathless realms their spreading ranks are wheel'd
O'er Mohawk's western wave and Bennington's dread field.
Till, where deep Hudson's winding waters stray,
A yeoman host opposed their rapid way;
There on a towery height brave Gates arose,
Waved the blue steel and dared the headlong foes;
Undaunted Lincoln, moving at his side,
Urged the dread strife, and spread the squadrons wide;
Now roll, like winged storms, the lengthening lines,
The clarion thunders and the battle joins;
Thick flames, in vollied flashes, fill the air,
And echoing mountains give the noise of war;
The clouds rise reddening, round the dreadful height,
And veil the skies and wrap the sounding fight.
Now, in the skirt of night, where thousands toil,
Ranks roll away and into light recoil;
The rout increases, all the British train
Tread back their steps and scatter o'er the plain;
To the glad holds precipitate retire,
And wide behind them streams the flashing fire.
Scarce moved the smoke above the gorey height,
And oped the slaughter to the hero's sight;
Back to their fate, when baffled squadrons flew,
Resumed their rage and pour'd the strife anew,
Again the batteries roar, the lightnings play,
Again they fall, again they roll away.
And now Columbia, circling round the field,
Points her full force, the trembling thousands yield;
When bold Burgoyne, in one disastrous day,
Sees future crowns and former wreaths decay;
While two illustrious armies shade the plain,
The mighty victors and the captive train.
Comments about this poem (Vision Of Columbus - Book 5 by Joel Barlow )
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