Helen Maria Williams

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Helen Maria Williams Poems

I.

She comes, benign enchantress, heav'n born PEACE!
With mercy beaming in her radiant eye;
...

Description of Peru, and of its Productions--Virtues of the People;
and of their Monarch, ATALIBA --His love for ALZIRA --Their Nup-
tials celebrated--Character of ZORAI , her Father--Descent of the
Genius of Peru--Prediction of the Fall of that Empire.
...

The hollow winds of night no more
In wild, unequal cadence pour,
On musing fancy's wakeful ear,
The groan of agony severe
...

I.

While envious crowds the summit view,
Where Danger with Ambition strays;
...

"Ah! pity all the pangs I feel,
If pity e'er ye knew;--
An aged father's wounds to heal,
Through scenes of death I flew.
...

While soon the "garden's flaunting flowers" decay,
And, scatter'd on the earth, neglected lie,
The "Mountain Daisy," cherish'd by the ray
A poet drew from heav'n, shall never die.
...

7.

I.

Slow spreads the gloom my soul desires--
The sun from India's shore retires--
...

Sweet Peace! ah, lead me from the thorny dale,
Where desolate my wand'ring steps have fled;
Far from the sunny paths which others tread,
While youth enlivens, and while joys prevail.
...

I.

Rise, winds of night! relentless tempests, rise!
Rush from the troubled clouds, and o'er me roll!
...

Character of ZAMOR , a bard--His passion for ACILOE , daughter of the Cazique who rules the valley--The Peruvian tribe prepare to defend themselves--A battle--The PERUVIANS are vanquished--ACILOE'S father is made a prisoner, and ZAMOR is supposed to have fallen in the engagement--ALPHONSO becomes enamoured of ACILOE --Offers to marry her--She rejects him--In revenge he puts her father to the torture--She appears to consent, in order to save him--Meets ZAMOR in a wood--LAS CASAS joins them--Leads the two lovers to ALPHONSO , and obtains their freedom--ZAMOR conducts ACILOE and her father to Chili--A reflection on the influence of Poetry over the human mind.


In this sweet scene, to all the virtues kind,
...

The troops of ALMAGRO and ALPHONSO meet on the plain of CUZCO --. MANCO -CAPAC attacks them by nights--His army is defeated, and he is forced to fly with its scattered remains--CORA goes in search of him-- Her infant in her arms--Overcome with fatigue, she rests at the foot of a mountain--An earthquake--A band of Indians fly to the mountain for shelter--CORA discovers her husband--Their interview--Her death --He escapes with his infant--ALMAGRO claims a share of the spoils of Cuzco--His contention with PIZARRO --The Spaniards destroy each other--ALMAGRO is taken prisoner, and put to death--His soldiers, in revenge, assassinate PIZARRO in his palace--LAS CASAS dies--The annual festival of the PERUVIANS --Their victories over the Spaniards in Chili--A wish for the restoration of their liberty--Conclusion.


At length ALMAGRO and ALPHONSO'S train,
...

PIZARRO lands with the Forces--His meeting with ATALIBA --Its un-
happy consequences--ZORAI dies--ATALIBA imprisoned, and strangled
--Despair of ALZIRA .
...

I.

Pale moon! thy mild benignant light
May glad some other captive's sight;
...

As roam'd a pilgrim o'er the mountain drear,
On whose lone verge the foaming billows roar,
The wail of hopeless sorrow pierc'd his ear,
And swell'd at distance on the sounding shore.
...

ALMAGRO'S expedition to Chili--His troops suffer great hardships from cold, in crossing the Andes--They reach Chili--The Chilians make a brave resistance--The revolt of the Peruvians in Cuzco---They are led on by MANCO CAPAC , the successor of ATALIBA --Parting with CORA , his wife--The Peruvians regain half their city--ALMAGRO leaves Chili--To avoid the Andes, he crosses a vast desert--His troops can find no water--They divide into two bands--ALPHONSO leads the second band, which soon reaches a fertile valley--The Spaniards observe that the natives are employed in searching the streams for gold--They resolve to attack them.


Now the stern partner of PIZARRO'S toils,
...

Where the pure Derwent's waters glide
Along their mossy bed,
Close by the river's verdant side,
A castle rear'd its head.
...

I.

Abash'd the rebel squadrons yield--
MACBETH , the victor of the field,
...

O, ever skilled to wear the form we love!
To bid the shapes of fear and grief depart;
Come, gentle Hope! with one gay smile remove
The lasting sadness of an aching heart.
...

The glitt'ring colours of the day are fled;
Come, melancholy orb! that dwell'st with night,
Come! and o'er earth thy wand'ring lustre shed,
Thy deepest shadow, and thy softest light;
...

Oh, thou whose melody the heart obeys,
Thou who can'st all its subject passions move,
Whose notes to heav'n the list'ning soul can raise,
...

Helen Maria Williams Biography

Helen Maria Williams was a British novelist, poet, and translator of French-language works. A religious dissenter, she was a supporter of abolitionism and of the ideals of the French Revolution; she was imprisoned in Paris during the Reign of Terror, but nonetheless spent much of the rest of her life in France.

A controversial figure in her own time, the young Williams was favorably portrayed in a 1787 poem by William Wordsworth, but (especially at the height of the French Revolution) she was portrayed by other writers as irresponsibly politically radical and even as sexually wanton.

Life

She was born to a Scottish mother, Helen Hay, and a Welsh army officer father, Charles Williams. Sources variously give her birth as 1761 or 1762. Her father died when she was eight; the remnant of the family moved to Berwick-upon-Tweed, where she had what she herself would describe in the preface to a 1786 book of poems as "a confined education" . In 1781 she moved to London and met Andrew Kippis, who would have great influence on her literary career and political views and brought her into contact with the leading London intellectuals of her time.

Her 1786 Poems touch on topics ranging from religion to a critique of Spanish colonial practices. She allied herself with the cult of feminine sensibility, deploying it politically in opposition to war ("Ode on the Peace", a 1786 poem about Peru) and slavery (the abolitionist "Poem on the Bill Lately Passed for Regulating the Slave Trade", 1788).

In the context of the Revolution Controversy, she came down on the side of the revolutionaries in her 1790 novel Julia and defied convention by traveling alone to revolutionary France, where she was hosted by Mme. Du Fossé, who had earlier, in London, given her lessons in French. Her letters from France marked a turn from being primarily a writer of poetry to one of prose. She enthusiastically attended the Fête de la Fédération on the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and returning briefly to London in 1791 was a staunch, though not completely uncritical, defender of the Revolution. Returning to France in July 1791, she published a poem "A Farewell for two Years to England"; in fact she briefly visited England again in 1792, but only to persuade her mother and her sisters, Cecilia and Persis, to join her in France just as the country was moving toward the more violent phases of its revolution.

After the September Massacres of 1792, she allied herself with the Girondists; as a saloniere, she also hosted Mary Wollstonecraft, Francisco de Miranda and Thomas Paine. After the violent downfall of the Gironde and the rise of the Reign of Terror, she and her family were thrown into in the Luxembourg prison where she was allowed to continue working on translations of French-language works into English, including what would prove to be a popular translation of Bernardin St. Pierre's novel Paul et Virginie, to which she appended her own prison sonnets. Upon her release, she traveled with John Hurford Stone to Switzerland. She was harshly criticized for this since Stone, separated from an unfaithful wife, was still legally a married man; the subsequent history of Williams and Stone's relationship only tended to confirm the rumors. Nonetheless, her few poems from this period continue to express Dissenting piety and were published in volumes with those of other religiously like-minded poets. In 1798, she published A Tour in Switzerland, which included an account of her travels, political commentary, and the poem "A Hymn Written Amongst the Alps".

Williams' 1801 Sketches of the State of Manners and Opinions in the French Republic showed a continued attachment to the original ideals of the French Revolution but a growing disenchantment with the rise of Napoleon; as emperor, he would declare her ode "The Peace signed between the French and the English" (also known as the "Ode on the Peace of Amiens") to be treasonable to France. Nonetheless, he proved to be, in this respect, more lenient than the revolutionary government had been to this now-famous international literary figure: she spent a single day in prison and continued to live and write in Paris. After the Bourbon Restoration, she became a naturalized French citizen in 1818; nonetheless, in 1819 she moved to Amsterdam to live with a nephew she had helped raise. However, she was unhappy in Amsterdam and soon returned to Paris, where, until her death in 1827, she continued to be an important interpreter of French intellectual currents for the English-speaking world.

The Best Poem Of Helen Maria Williams

Ode To Peace

I.

She comes, benign enchantress, heav'n born PEACE!
With mercy beaming in her radiant eye;
She bids the horrid din of battle cease,
And at her glance the savage passions die.
'Tis Nature's festival, let earth rejoice,
And pour to Liberty exulting songs,
In distant regions, with according voice,
Let Man the vict'ry bless, its prize to Man belongs.


II.

Resistless Freedom! when she nerves the arm,
No vulgar triumph crowns the hero's might;
She, she alone can spread a moral charm
O'er war's fell deeds, and sanctify the fight.
O, GALLIA ! in this bright immortal hour,
How proud a trophy binds thy laurel'd brow!
Republic, hail! whose independent power
All earth contested once, all earth confesses now.


III.

Protecting spirits of the glorious dead!
Ah, not in vain the hero's noble toil,
Ah, not in vain the patriot's blood is shed,
That blood shall consecrate his native soil.
Illustrious names! to hist'ry's record dear,
And breath'd when some high impulse fires the bard,
For you shall virtue pour the glowing tear,
And your remember'd deeds shall still your country guard.


IV.

And thou, lov'd BRITAIN , my parental Isle!
Secure, encircled by thy subject waves,
Thou, land august, where Freedom rear'd her pile,
While gothic night obscur'd a world of slaves;
Thy genius, that indignant heard the shock
Of frantic combat, strife unmeet for thee,
Now views triumphant, from his sea-girt rock,
Thee unsubdued alone, for thou alone wert free!


V.

O, happy thy misguided efforts fail'd,
My Country! when with tyrant-hosts combin'd--
O, hideous conquest, had thy sword prevail'd,
And crown'd the impious league against mankind!
Thou nurse of great design, of lofty thought,
What homicide, had thy insensate rage
Effac'd the sacred lesson thou hast taught,
And with thy purest blood inscrib'd on glory's page.


VI.

Ah, rather haste to Concord's holy shrine,
Ye rival nations, haste with joy elate;
Your blending garlands round her altar twine,
And bind the wounds of no immortal hate:
Go--breathe responsive rituals o'er the sod
Where Freedom martyrs press an early grave;
Go--vow that never shall their turf be trod
By the polluting step of tyrant or of slave.


VII.

And from your shores the abject vices chase,
That low Ambition generous souls disdain,
Corruption blasting every moral grace,
Servility that kneels to bless his chain;
O, Liberty, those demons far remove,
Come, nymph severely good, sublimely great!
Nor to the raptur'd hope of mortals prove
Like those illusive dreams that pass the iv'ry gate.


VII.

New Age! that roll'st o'er man thy dawning year,
Ah, sure all happy omens hail thy birth,
Sure whiter annals in thy train appear,
And purer glory cheers the gladden'd earth:
Like the young eagle, when his stedfast glance
Meets the full sun-beam in his upward flight,
So thou shalt with majestic step advance,
And fix thy dauntless eye on Liberty and Light.

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