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Vision Of Columbus - Book 9 - Poem by Joel Barlow

Now, round the yielding canopy of shade,
Again the Guide his heavenly power display'd.
Sudden, the stars their trembling fires withdrew,
Returning splendors burst upon the view;
Floods of unfolding light the skies adorn,
And more than midday glories grace the morn.
So shone the earth, as all the starry train,
Broad as full suns, had sail'd the ethereal plain;
When no distinguish'd orb could strike the sight,
But one clear blaze of all-surrounding light
O'erflow'd the vault of heaven. For now, in view
Remoter climes and future ages drew;
While deeds of happier fame, in long array,
Call'd into vision, fill the new-born day.
Far as the Angelic Power could lift the eye,
Or earth, or ocean bend the yielding sky;
Or circling suns awake the breathing gale,
Drake lead the way, or Cook extend the sail;
All lands, all seas, that boast a present name,
And all that unborn time shall give to fame,
Around the chief in fair expansion rise,
And earth's whole circuit bounds the level'd skies.
He saw the nations tread their different shores,
Ply their own toils and claim their local powers.
He mark'd what tribes still rove the savage waste,
What happier realms the sweets of plenty taste;
Where arts and virtues fix their golden reign,
Or peace adorns, or slaughter dyes the plain.
He saw the restless Tartar, proud to roam,
Move with his herds, and spread his transient home;
Thro' the vast tracts of China's fixt domain,
The sons of dull contentment plough the plain;
The gloomy Turk ascends the blood-stain'd car,
And Russian banners shade the plains of war;
Brazilia's wilds and Afric's burning sands
With bickering strife inflame the furious bands;
On blest Atlantic isles, and Europe's shores,
Proud wealth and commerce heap their growing stores,
While his own western world, in prospect fair,
Calms her brave sons, now breathing from the war,
Unfolds her harbours, spreads the genial soil,
And welcomes freemen to the cheerful toil.
When thus the Power. In this extended view,
Behold the paths thy changing race pursue.
See, thro' the whole, the same progressive plan,
That draws, for mutual succour, man to man,
From friends to tribes, from tribes to realms ascend,
Their powers, their interests and their passions blend;
Adorn their manners, social virtues spread,
Enlarge their compacts and extend their trade;
While chiefs like thee, with persevering soul,
Bid venturous barks to new discoveries roll;
High in the north, and tow'rd the southern skies,
New isles and nations greet the roving eyes;
Till each remotest realm, by friendship join'd,
Links in the chain that binds all human kind,
The union'd banners rise at last unfurl'd,
And wave triumphant round the accordant world.
As small swift streams their furious course impel,
Till meeting waves their winding currents swell;
Then widening sweep thro' each descending plain,
And move majestic to the boundless main:
'Tis thus society's small sources rise;
Through passions wild their devious progress lies;
Interest and faith and pride and power withstand,
And mutual ills the growing views expand;
Till tribes and states and empires find their place,
And one wide interest sways the peaceful race.
And see, in haste, the ascending scenes advance,
The ports unfold, the glimmering navies dance;
For commerce arm'd the different Powers combine,
And Heaven approving aids the blest design.
Tho' jarring realms, awhile the combat wage,
And hold in lingering strife, the unsettled age;
Yet no rude war, that sweeps the crimson plain,
Shall dare disturb the labours of the main.
For Heaven impartial spread the watery way,
Liberal as air and unconfined as day;
That every distant land the wealth might share,
Exchange their fruits and fill their treasures there;
Their speech assimilate, their empires blend,
And mutual interest fix the mutual friend.
The hero look'd: beneath his wondering eyes,
Bright streamers lengthen round the seas and skies;
The countless nations open all their stores,
Load every wave and croud the masted shores;
The sails, in mingling mazes, sweep the air,
And commerce triumphs o'er the rage of war.
From Baltic streams, that swell in lonely pride,
From Rhine's long course, and Texel's labouring tide,
From Gallia's coast, from Albion's hoary height,
And fair Hibernia, clothed in purer light,
Hispania's strand, that two broad oceans lave,
From Senegal's and Tagus' winding wave,
The gathering masts, in peaceful squadrons, rise,
And wave their cloudly curtains to the skies.
Thro' the deep strait that leads the midland tide,
The sails look forth and swell their beauteous pride;
Where Asia's isles and utmost shores extend,
Like rising suns, the sheeted masts ascend,
And join with peaceful toil the friendly train,
No more to combat on the liquid plain.
In distant glory, where the watery way
Spreads the blue borders of descending day,
The flowing flags unfold, in lengthening sweep,
Pride of the world and daughters of the deep.
From Arctic heavens, and deep in southern skies,
Where frost recedes as blooms of culture rise–
Where eastern Amur's lengthening current glides,
Where California breaks the billowy tides,
Peruvian streams their golden margins boast,
And spreading Chili leads the channel'd coast,
The pinions swell; till all the cloud-like train,
From pole to pole, o'ershades the whitening main.
So some imperial Seraph, placed on high,
From heaven's sublimest tower o'erlook'd the sky;
When space unfolding heard the voice of God,
And suns and stars and systems roll'd abroad,
Caught their first splendors from the all-beaming Eye
Began their years, and vaulted round the sky;
Their mingling spheres in bright confusion play,
Exchange their beams and fill the new-born day.
He saw, as widely spreads the unchannel'd plain,
Where inland realms for ages bloom'd in vain,
Canals, long-winding, ope a watery flight,
And distant streams and seas and lakes unite,
Where Darien hills o'erlook the gulphy tide,
By human art, the ridgy banks divide;
Ascending sails the opening pass pursue,
And waft the sparkling treasures of Peru.
Jeneiro's stream from Plata winds his way,
And bold Madera opes from Paraguay.
From fair Albania, tow'rd the falling sun,
Back thro' the midland, lengthening channels run,
Meet the far lakes, their beauteous towns that lave,
And Hudson join to broad Ohio's wave.
From dim Superior, whose unfathom'd sea
Drinks the mild splendors of the setting day,
New paths, unfolding, lead their watery pride,
And towns and empires rise along their side;
To Missisippi's source the passes bend,
And to the broad Pacific main extend.
From the red banks of blest Arabia's tide,
Thro' the dread Isthmus, waves unwonted glide;
From Europe's crouded coasts while bounding sails
Look through the pass and call the Asian gales.
Volga and Oby distant oceans join,
And the long Danube meets the rolling Rhine;
While other streams that cleave the midland plain,
Spread their new courses to the distant main.
He saw the aspiring genius of the age
Soar in the bard and strengthen in the sage;
With daring thought thro' time's long flight extend,
Rove the wide earth and with the heaven ascend;
Bid each fond wish, that leads the soul abroad,
Breathe to all men, to nature and to God.
He saw, where pale diseases, wont to brave
The pride of art, and croud the untimely grave,
With long-wrought life the nations learn to glow,
And blooming health adorn the locks of snow,
A countless train the healing science aid,
Its power establish and its blessings spread;
In every shape, that varying matter gives,
That rests or ripens, vegetates or lives,
By chymic power the springs of health they trace,
And add new beauties to the joyous race.
While thus the realms their mutual glories lend,
Unnumber'd sires the cares of state attend;
Blest with each human art, and skill'd to find,
Each wild device that prompts the wayward mind;
What soft restraints the untemper'd breast requires,
To caste new joys and cherish new desires,
Expand the selfish to the social flame,
And fire the soul to deeds of nobler fame.
They see, in all the boasted paths of praise,
What partial views heroic ardor raise;
What mighty states on others' ruins stood,
And built, secure, their haughty seats in blood;
How public virtue's ever-borrow'd name
With proud applause hath graced the deeds of shame,
Bade Rome's imperial standard wave sublime,
And patriot slaughter spread to every clime;
From chief to chief, the kindling spirit ran,
The heirs of fame and enemies of man.
Where Grecian states in even balance hung,
And warm'd with jealous fires the sage's tongue,
The exclusive ardor cherish'd in the breast
Love to one land, and hatred to the rest.
And where the flames of civil discord rage,
And kindred arms destructive combat wage,
The unchanging virtue rises, still the same,
To build a Cromwell's as a Charles's name,
No more the noble patriotic mind,
To narrow views and local laws confined,
'Gainst neighbouring lands directs the public rage,
Plods for a realm or counsels for an age;
But lifts a larger thought, and reaches far,
Beyond the power, beyond the wish of war;
For realms and ages forms the general aim,
Makes patriot views and moral views the same,
Sees with prophetic eye in peace combined,
The strength and happiness of human-kind.
Now had the hero, with delighted eye,
Roved o'er the climes, that lengthen'd round the sky;
When the blest Guide his heavenly power display'd,
The earth all trembles and the visions fade:
Thro' other scenes descending ages roll,
And still new wonders open on his soul.
Again his view the range of nature bounds,
Confines the concave and the world surrounds;
When the wide nations all arise more near,
And a mixt tumult murmurs in his ear.
At first, like heavy thunders, borne, afar,
Or the dire conflict of a moving war,
Or waves resounding on the craggy shore,
Hoarse roll'd the loud-toned undulating roar.
At length the sounds, like human voices, rise,
And different nations' undistinguish'd cries
Flow from all climes around in wild career,
And grate harsh discord in the aching ear.
Now more distinct the wide concussion, grown,
Rolls forth, at times, an accent like his own;
While thousand tongues from different regions pour,
And drown all words in one convulsing roar.
By turns the sounds assimilating rise,
And smoother voices gain upon the skies;
Mingling and softening still, in every gale,
O'er the harsh tones harmonious strains prevail.
At last a simple, universal sound
Fills every clime and soothes the world around;
From echoing shores the swelling strain replies,
And moves melodious o'er the warbling skies.
Such wild commotions as he heard and view'd,
In fixt astonishment the hero stood,
And thus besought the Guide: Celestial friend,
What good to man can these dread scenes intend?
What dire distress attends that boding sound,
That breathes hoarse thunder o'er the trembling ground?
War sure has ceased; or have my erring eyes
Misread the glorious visions of the skies?
Tell then, my Seer, if future earthquakes sleep,
Closed in the conscious caverns of the deep,
Waiting the day of vengeance, when to roll,
And rock the rending pillars of the pole?
Or tell if ought, more dreadful to my race,
In these dark signs, thy heavenly wisdom trace?
And why the wild confusion melts again,
In the smooth glidings of a tuneful strain?
The voice of Heaven replied; Thy fears give o'er;
The rage of war shall sweep the plains no more;
No dire distress these strange events foredoom,
But give the marks of nobler joys to come;
The tongues of nations, here, harmonious blend,
Till one pure language thro' the earth extend.
Thou knowest, when impious Babel dared arise,
With sacred rites to grace the starry skies,
Tumultuous discord seized the trembling bands,
Opposed their labours and unnerved their hands,
Dispersed the bickering tribes, and drove them far,
To roam the waste and fire their souls for war;
Bade kings arise, and from their seats be hurl'd,
And pride and conquest range the extended world.
In this the marks of heavenly wisdom shine,
And speak the counsel, as the hand, divine.
In that far age, when o'er the world's broad waste,
Surrounding shades their gloomy horrors cast,
If men, while pride and power the breast inflamed,
By speech allied, one natal region claim'd,
No timorous tribe a different clime would gain,
Or lift the sail, or dare the billowy main.
Fixt in a central spot their lust of power
Would rage insatiate, and the race devour;
A howling waste the unpeopled world remain;
And oceans roll, and climes extend in vain.
Far other counsels, in the Eternal Mind,
Lead on the unconscious steps of human kind;
O'errule the ills their daring crimes produce,
By ways unseen, to serve the happiest use.
For this, the early tribes were taught to range,
For this, their language and their laws to change;
Tempt the wide wave and warm the genial soil,
To crown with fruits the hardy hand of toil,
Divide their forces, wheel the conquering car,
Deal mutual death, and civilize by war.
And now the effects, thro' every land, extend,
These dread events have found their fated end;
Unnumber'd tribes have dared the savage wood,
And streams unnumber'd swell'd with human blood,
Increasing nations with the years of time,
Spread their wide walks to each delighted clime,
To mutual wants their barter'd tributes paid,
Their counsels soften'd and their wars allay'd;
While powerful commerce bids the flag unroll,
And wave the union of the accordant whole.
At this blest period, when thy peaceful race
Shall speak one language and one cause embrace,
Science and arts a speedier course shall find,
And open earlier on the infant mind,
No foreign terms shall croud with barbarous rules,
The dull, unmeaning pageantry of schools;
Nor dark authorities, nor names unknown
Fill the learn'd head with ign'rance not its own;
But truth's fair eye, with beams unclouded, shine,
And simplest rules her moral lights confine;
One living language, one unborrow'd dress
Her boldest flights with happiest force express;
Triumphant virtue, in the garb of truth,
Win a pure passage to the heart of youth,
Pervade all climes, where suns or oceans roll,
And bid the gospel cheer the illumined whole.
As the glad day-star, on his golden throne,
Fair type of truth and promise of the sun,
Smiles up the orient, in his rosy ray,
Illumes the front of heaven, and leads the day;
Thus soaring Science daughter of the skies,
First o'er the nations bids her beauties rise,
Prepares the glorious way, to pour abroad
The beams of Heaven's own morn, the splendors of a God.
Then blest Religion leads the raptured mind,
Thro' brighter fields and pleasures more refined;
Teaches the roving eye, at one broad view,
To glance o'er time and look Existence thro',
See worlds, and worlds, to Being's formless end,
With all their hosts, on one dread Power depend,
Seraphs and suns and systems round him rise,
Live in his life and kindle from his eyes,
His boundless love, his all-pervading soul
Illume, sublime and harmonize the whole;
Teaches the pride of man to fix its bound,
In one small point of this amazing round;
To shrink and rest, where Heaven has fix'd its fate,
A line its space, a moment for its date;
Instructs the heart a nobler joy to taste,
And share its feelings with another's breast,
Extend its warmest wish for all mankind,
And catch the image of the Maker's mind;
While mutual love commands all strife to cease,
And earth join joyous in the songs of peace.
Thus heard the chief, impatient to behold
The expected years, in all their charms, unfold:
The soul stood speaking thro' his gazing eyes,
And thus his voice; Oh, bid the visions rise!
Command, celestial guide, from each far pole,
The blissful morn to open on my soul;
And lift those scenes, that ages fold in night,
Living, and glorious, to my longing sight;
Let heaven, unfolding, ope the eternal throne,
And all the concave flame in one clear sun;
On clouds of fire, with Angels at his side,
The Prince of peace, the King of Salem ride,
With smiles of love to greet the raptured earth,
Call slumbering ages to a second birth;
With all his white-robed millions fill the train,
And here commence the interminable reign.
Such views, the Power replies, would drown thy sight,
And seal thy visions in eternal night;
Nor Heaven permits, nor Angels can display
The unborn glories of that blissful day.
Enough for thee, that thy delighted mind,
Should trace the deeds and blessings of thy kind;
That time's descending vale should ope so far,
Beyond the reach of wretchedness and war;
Till all the paths in Heaven's extended plan,
Fair in thy view should lead the steps of man;
To form, at last, in earth's benighted ball,
Union of parts and happiness of all.
To thy glad view these rolling scenes have shown,
What boundless blessings thy vast labours crown;
That, with the joys of unborn ages blest,
Thy soul, exulting, may retire to rest,
And find, in regions of unclouded day,
What heaven's bright walks and endless years display.
Behold, once more, around the earth and sky,
The last glad visions wait thy raptured eye.
The great Observer look'd; the land and sea,
In solemn grandeur, stretch'd beneath him, lay;
Here swell the mountains, there the oceans roll,
And beams of beauty kindle round the pole.
O'er all the range, where coasts and climes extend,
In glorious pomp the works of peace ascend.
Robed in the bloom of spring's eternal year,
And ripe with fruits, the same glad fields appear,
On each long strand unnumber'd cities run,
Bend their bright walls and sparkle to the sun;
The streams, all freighted from the bounteous plain,
Swell with the load and labour to the main;
Where widening waves command a bolder gale,
And prop the pinions of a broader sail:
Sway'd with the floating weight, the ocean toils,
And joyous nature's last perfection smiles.
Now, fair beneath his view, the important age
Leads the bold actors on a broader stage;
When, clothed majestic in the robes of state,
Moved by one voice, in general council meet
The fathers of all empires: 'twas the place,
Near the first footsteps of the human race;
Where wretched men, first wandering from their God,
Began their feuds and led their tribes abroad.
In this mid region, this delightful clime,
Rear'd by whole realms, to brave the wrecks of time,
A spacious structure rose, sublimely great,
The last resort, the unchanging scene of state.
On rocks of adamant the walls ascend,
Tall columns heave, and Parian arches bend;
High o'er the golden roofs, the rising spires,
Far in the concave meet the solar fires;
Four blazing fronts, with gates unfolding high,
Look, with immortal splendor, round the sky:
Hither the delegated sires ascend,
And all the cares of every clime attend.
As the fair first-born messengers of heaven,
To whom the care of stars and suns is given,
When the last circuit of their winding spheres
Hath finish'd time and mark'd their sum of years,
From all the bounds of space (their labours done)
Shall wing their triumphs to the eternal throne;
Each, from his far dim sky, illumes the road,
And sails and centres tow'rd the mount of God;
There, in mid heaven, their honour'd seats to spread,
And ope the untarnish'd volumes of the dead:
So, from all climes of earth, where nations rise,
Or lands or oceans bound the incumbent skies,
Wing'd with unwonted speed, the gathering throng
In ships and chariots, shape their course along;
Till, wide o'er earth and sea, they win their way,
Where the bold structure flames against the day;
There, hail the splendid seat by Heaven assign'd,
To hear and give the counsels of mankind.
Now the dread concourse, in the ample dome,
Pour thro' the arches and their seats assume;
Far as the extended eye can range around,
Or the deep trumpet's solemn voice resound,
Long rows of reverend sires, sublime, extend,
And cares of worlds on every brow suspend.
High in the front, for manlier virtues known,
A sire elect, in peerless grandeur, shone;
And rising oped the universal cause,
To give each realm its limit and its laws;
Bid the last breath of dire contention cease,
And bind all regions in the leagues of peace,
Bid one great empire, with extensive sway,
Spread with the sun and bound the walks of day,
One centred system, one all-ruling soul,
Live thro' the parts, and regulate the whole.
Here, said the Angel with a blissful smile,
Behold the fruits of thy unwearied toil.
To yon far regions of descending day,
Thy swelling pinions led the untrodden way,
And taught mankind adventurous deeds to dare,
To trace new seas and peaceful empires rear;
Hence, round the globe, their rival sails, unfurl'd,
Have waved, at last, in union o'er the world.
Let thy delighted soul no more complain,
Of dangers braved and griefs endured in vain,
Of courts insidious, envy's poison'd stings,
The loss of empire and the frown of kings;
While these bright scenes thy glowing thoughts compose,
To spurn the vengeance of insulting foes;
And all the joys, descending ages gain,
Repay thy labours and remove thy pain.
The END.

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