Henry James Pye

(20 February 1745 – 11 August 1813 / London, England)

The Art Of War. Book Iii. - Poem by Henry James Pye

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Your footsteps now the arsenals have trod
Where lie the treasures of the warrior God;
Yet 'midst his ranks to serve is little fame,
Little avails the soldier's ardent flame,
Unless to all the heights of art you climb,
And reach of martial skill the true sublime.

Come to his Temple! lo to you reveal'd
Each mystic rite from common eyes conceal'd,
Far from those paths where creep the vulgar train
March boldly on, and seek the inmost fane.

Deep sink the threatening gulphs on either side,
And the rude path with heroes blood is dy'd,
Firm on a crimson rock, with murky cloud
Enwrap'd, the palace rears her turrets proud
Above the sun amidst the empyreal skies,
Sublime her glittering pinacles arise,
While her foundations sinking deep, remain
On Stygian shores, and Pluto's drear domain.

Pale Discord, cruel Death, the Fury band,
Who of these seats eternal guardians stand,
In vain on you their savage aspects turn,
While in your breast the flames of Glory burn,
Glory shall ope the sounding portals wide,
Conduct your steps, and place you by her side.
Beneath the porch enrich'd with burnish'd gold,
Tuning their silver lyres the Nine behold:
First 'mid their number see Urania stand,
The pictur'd globe, and compass in her hand,
On whose smooth surface drawn with mimic line,
Appear what realms to form the world combine;
Through all the extent her skilful fingers trace
Each different state, it's order, and it's place;
Exact Vauban, and learned Sanson there,
The warrior's guides, her favorite sons appear,
They point the plains extent, the city's force,
The mountain's summit, and the river's course,
The strength or weakness of the fort display,
And guide through paths unseen the warrior's way.

But who is that by Glory's side who sings
The various fate of warriors, and of kings?
Calliope! the listening youth around
Catch from her dulcet breath the enlivening sound,
And equal skill the attentive Pupil draws
From Error's censure, and from Worth's applause.

Morality with form majestic see
Keeping the approach from minds presumptuous free,
Her voice severe those chiefs alone approves
Whom Merit dignifies, and Virtue loves,
Bids Cruelty and Avarice fly afar,
And teaches pity 'mid the rage of War,
Hates Envy's snakes, and crowns with Glory's meed
Their brows alone who for their country bleed.

Approach! Bellona's armed hands discern
On the strong hinge the brazen portal turn,
Which from the vulgar eye those mysteries hide,
Shewn to the favorite train who grace her side.

Deep in the Temple's isle with splendor graced,
On a proud throne's majestic purple placed,
Which Genius on her spreading pinions bears,
In all his pomp the dreadful God appears:
Close by his side intrepid Valor stands,
And Prudence, calm amidst contending bands,
Labor whose wakeful eyelids never close,
And Guile who round her looks malignant throws;
Who as occasion suits at will appears,
And Proteus-like a thousand figures wears;
Imagination, in whose eye confess'd
Beams the rich fire that animates her breast,
Where swift a thousand brilliant projects move,
Which wise Minerva's critic rules approve.
With downcast looks and deep mysterious mien,
Lo! Secresy compleats the mingled scene,
With finger on her mouth, and speaking nod,
She stalks still trusted by the warrior God.

Around the throne eternal laurels blow,
Which on those Demi-Gods his hands bestow,
Those favorite chiefs whose skill in many a field
Has made to Wisdom's efforts Victory yield,
Heroic crown! 'tis thy unfading charms
Which court alone the illustrious chief to arms,
Each selfish passion wings her harpy flight,
While thou and Glory charm him to the fight.

'Midst the bright fane which various trophies grace,
Mars at his will directs the human race;
Between yon brazen columns turn your eyes,
And mark the chiefs in sculptur'd order rise,
In the cut marble frowns each daring son,
On nations trading which his arms had won.

Here shine, so oft compar'd, each glorious name
Mounting by different steps the heights of fame,
With whose renown still rings the earthly ball,
This great by Persia's, that by Pompey's fall;
Miltiades and Cymon grace the shrine,
And Alcibiades thy form divine,
Emilius, Quintus, Fabius, Scipio, there
Partake the triumph, and the incense share,
Villars and Condé, chiefs of newer date,
And royal Henry justly nam'd the Great,
Gustavus slain while Victory graced his side,
And valiant William, Prussia's darling pride,
Illustrious Anhalt, Baden, brave Eugene,
Germania's guardian, and his foe Turenne.

New from the artist's hand, yon sculptur'd head,
The palm fresh blooming o'er his temples spread,
The glorious Saxon see, the boast of France!
Reserv'd in peace for Death's insatiate lance!

Come beardless youths, Experience sage behold,
Long us'd to labor, and in science old,
Silver'd with age her hoary head appears,
Her body bent beneath the weight of years,
Her limbs tho' scarr'd yet mock the strokes of time,
Vers'd in the arts of every age and clime
Her voice examples to the ear supplies,
And speaks of deeds familiar to her eyes.

She'll teach you Scipio's ardor to explore,
Protecting Rome on Libya's distant shore,
Till Carthage calls her veteran troops again,
To meet disgrace on Zama's sultry plain;
While a less daring chief content to shield
From conquering foes Italia's ravag'd field,
Successful there, had thank'd propitious fate,
And guarded, not reveng'd, the insulted state.

Fell Discord while on haughty Rome she frown'd,
With meeds of glory many a warrior crown'd,
Skill'd to advance with speed, with care retreat,
Sertorius see her baffled troops defeat,
Amidst Iberia's hills his well-train'd force,
Checks Rome's adventurous eagle in her course;
So much can Genius by her potent art,
Success to arms in spite of chance impart.
While a young Chief to rasher steps inclin'd,
Leaving the rocks, and sheltering hills behind,
Had in their Camp the numerous foe defied,
And Pompey dar'd with Fortune by his side.

Condé the great, Bellona's favorite son,
Of wasted France secur'd the tottering throne;
The unhappy times a dauntless stroke require,
To check of conquering foes the increasing fire.
In one decisive day for France and Spain,
Courage prevail'd where Prudence had been vain.
While timid measures weakly circumspect
Had tried alone the nation to protect,
The Spanish chief embolden'd by delay,
To proud Lutetia's walls had forced his way.

From Northern climes, the eternal winter's reign,
See the dread squadron plow our frighted main,
Drawn by Germania's wrongs, the navy brings
The brave Gustavus, and the fate of kings;
To him their cause the realms oppress'd confide,
Mars leads his steps, and Pallas guards his side,
His threatening brows on Austria's Tyrant lower,
Resolv'd to curb Vienna's growing power,
While Stralsund's friendly ramparts still afford
A ready harbour to their daring Lord:
Assistance fortune to his ardor lends,
Join'd by each army of his succouring friends,
With sure success he prosecutes the War,
And Victory seems attendant on his car;
With conquering arms he gives Germania laws,
Avenges every injur'd prince's cause,
At once to glory, and to interest true,
Asserts their rights, and then protects them too,
And had not Fate in Victory's mourning arms
Stopp'd by one cruel blow the War's alarms,
His rapid power had shar'd the imperial throne,
And Germany at once two Cæsars known.

Behold of brave Eugene the daring plan
When Gallia's lilies Lombardy o'er-ran,
The opposing Alps the unwearied Hero cross'd,
Turin exulting, view'd the friendly host,
Extended, Marsin! o'er too large a field,
Thy troops at once in every quarter yield;
The rapid chief by this exploit alone,
Forced Italy her feeble prince to own.

Now through Hungaria's realms his march pursue,
On Danube's brink his firm battalions view,
While Belgrade's siege employs his great designs,
The numerous Turk surrounds him in his lines,
With unremitting toil the siege he plies,
Nor heeds the Vizier's daring enterprize;
He lets him now a new approach essay,
And o'er the rapid current urge his way;
Then like the fleeting wind with sudden force
On the stunn'd foe he pours his thundering horse:
Soon to his arms the astonish'd Othmans yield
The walls of Belgrade, and the glorious field.

Illustrious William! from Elysium's shade,
Arise propitious to thy people's aid,
To your brave sons the art of Victory tell,
And teach those lessons which you knew so well.
Your sons by that example mov'd alone,
Shall want no precepts drawn from chiefs unknown;
O glorious Brandenburgh! thy generous fire
A grateful people ever shall admire,
The hapless sorrows of thy realms oppress'd,
With powerful pity touch'd thy feeling breast,
Quitting the crimson borders of the Rhine,
On Elbe's disorder'd brink thy legions shine:
Like tigers fierce the Swedes with barbarous haste
O'er-ran our fields, and laid our country waste,
The wretched native saw with wild amaze,
The harvest ravag'd, and the city blaze,
Wrangle, of easy victory proudly sure,
Amidst his rising laurels slept secure,
Till wak'd at once he saw destruction near,
And in our cause the avenging God appear;
The saving Power impetuous speeds his way,
Comes, views, and conquers, in one glorious day:
In vain the Swede collects his scatter'd force,
And tries to stem this new Alcides' course,
Feherbellin witness of the glorious deed,
Beheld with joy the Gothic army bleed.
Thus whilom 'midst Assyria's haughty band,
The avenging angel drove with furious hand,
Perform'd the will of Heaven's eternal Lord,
And millions fell beneath the ethereal sword.
But William greater in the exulting hour,
With heavenly mercy temper'd victory's power,
Pardon'd of Homberg's zeal the impetuous flight,
Who rashly join'd too soon the dubious fight,
Bade clemency with streams unsullied flow,
Nor took revenge upon the suppliant foe,
But while the yielding troops he knew to spare,
On their arm'd bands he pour'd the rage of War,
Till from his borders driven, the hostile train
Seek shameful safety on the friendly main.

Still new exploits these daring deeds attend,
To him her suppliant looks does Prussia send,
The wintry tempest and the ice-bound wave
But more inflame the ardor of the brave,
Astonish'd Thetis to another shore,
Upon her frozen bosom bears him o'er:
He comes!—where'er they hear his name resound,
The vanquish'd Swedes retire, nor tempt a wound;
With unresisted arms his legions go,
And gain a bloodless conquest o'er the foe.

Impatient youths in search of glory warm,
From this victorious Prince your model form,
Like him pursue with ceaseless toil and pain,
Each different path that leads to Honor's fane,
Your every scheme to Reason's touchstone bring,
And let her prune Imagination's wing;
Each motion of the foe with caution scan,
Mark all he does perform, and all he can.
Strength will be useless found, and courage vain,
Unless fair plenty chear your warlike train.
Charles, who of wavering fate prov'd each succcess,
The height of fame, the depth of sad distress,
Would ne'er with tears have mourn'd his ruin'd host,
And in one day nine years of Victory lost,
Had not 'mid desert wilds the artful Czar
Call'd pale-eyed famine to the aid of War.
The thunder treasur'd 'gainst your foe with care,
To use with speed, not rashness, still prepare.
Your plan with cool and stedfast step pursue,
Think nothing done while aught remains to do,
Nor deem perform'd your destin'd task unless
Each different project's crown'd with full success.

Thus when from Chaos in confusion hurl'd,
The Almighty Fiat form'd the smiling world,
Mov'd by his plastic breath the atoms join'd,
And took the perfect shape his will design'd.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 27, 2010



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