poet Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Hymn: Ye Are The Salt Of The Earth

Salt of the earth, ye virtuous few,
Who season human-kind;
Light of the world, whose cheering ray
Illumes the realms of mind:
Where Misery spreads her deepest shade,
Your strong compassion glows;
From your blest lips the balm distils,
That softens mortal woes.

By dying beds, in prison glooms,
Your frequent steps are found;
Angels of love! you hover near,
To bind the stranger's wound.
You wash with tears the bloody page
Which human crimes deform;
When vengeance threats, your prayers ascend,
And break the gathering storm.
As down the summer stream of vice
The thoughtless many glide;
Upward you steer your steady bark,
And stem the rushing tide.
Where guilt her foul contagion breathes,
And golden spoils allure;
Unspotted still your garments shine—
Your hands are ever pure.

Whene'er you touch the poet's lyre,
A loftier strain is heard;
Each ardent thought is yours alone,
And every burning word.
Yours is the large expansive thought,
The high heroic deed;
Exile and chains to you are dear—
To you 'tis sweet to bleed.
You lift on high the warning voice,
When public ills prevail;
Yours is the writing on the wall
That turns the tyrant pale.
The dogs of hell your steps pursue,
With scoff, and shame, and loss;
The hemlock bowl 'tis yours to drain,
To taste the bitter cross.

E'en yet the steaming scaffolds smoke,
By Seine's polluted stream;
With your rich blood the fields are drenched,
Where Polish sabres gleam.
E'en now, through those accursed bars,
In vain we send our sighs;
Where, deep in Olmutz' dungeon glooms,
The patriot martyr lies.
Yet yours is all through History's rolls
The kindling bosom feels;
And at your tomb, with throbbing heart,
The fond enthusiast kneels.
In every faith, through every clime,
Your pilgrim steps we trace;
And shrines are dressed, and temples rise,
Each hallowed spot to grace;
And pæans loud, in every tongue,
And choral hymns resound;
And lengthening honours hand your name
To time's remotest bound.
Proceed! your race of glory run,
Your virtuous toils endure!
You come, commissioned from on high,
And your reward is sure.

Poem Submitted: Monday, September 6, 2010

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