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FRANCE

An Ode.

YE Clouds! that far above me float and pause, Whose pathless march no mortal may controul!

Ye Ocean-Waves ! that, wheresoe'er ye roll, Yield homage only to eternal laws ! Ye Woods ! that listen to the night-birds' singing,

Midway the smooth and perilous slope reclin’d, Save when your own imperious branches swinging

Have made a solemn music of the wind !
Where, like a man belov'd of God,
Through glooms, which never woodman trod,

How oft, pursuing fancies holy,
My moonlight way o'er flow'ring weeds I wound,

Inspired, beyond the guess of folly, By each rude shape and wild unconquerable sound ! O ye loud Waves! and 0 ye Forests high !

And O ye Clouds that far above me soar'd!

Thou rising Sun ! thou blue rejoicing Sky!

Yea, every thing that is and will be free !
Bear witness for me, wheresoe'r ye be,
With what deep worship I have still ador’d

The spirit of divinest Liberty.

II.
When France in wrath her giant-limbs upreared,

And with that oath, which smote air, earth and sea,

Stamp'd her strong foot and said she would be free,
Bear witness for me, how I hop'd and fear'd !
With what a joy my lofty gratulation

Unaw'd I sang, amid a slavish band :
And when to whelm the disenchanted nation,
Like fiends embattled by a wizzard's wand,

The Monarchs march'd in evil day,

And Britain join'd the dire array;
Though dear her shores and circling ocean,
Though many friendships, many youthful loves

Had swoln the patriot emotion
And flung a magic light o'er all her hills and groves ;.
Yet still my voice, unalter'd, sang defeat

To all that brav’d the tyrant-quelling lance, And shame too long delay'd and vain retreat!

For ne'er, O Liberty! with partial aim
I dimm'd thy light or damp'd thy holy flame ;

But blest the pæans of deliver'd France,
And hung my head and wept at Britain's name.

. III. “ And what,” I said, “ though Blasphemy's loud scream

“ With that sweet music of deliverance strove ?

“ Though all the fierce and drunken passions wove “ A dance more wild than e'er was maniac's dream?

“ Ye storms, that round the dawning east assembled, .* The Sun was rising, though ye hid his light!"

And when, to sooth my soul, that hoped and trembled, The dissonance ceas'd, and all seem'd calm and bright;

When France her front deep-scar'd and gory
Conceal’d with clustering wreaths of glory;

When, insupportably advancing,
Her arm made mockery of the warrior's ramp;

While timid looks of fury glancing,
Domestic treason, crush'd beneath her fatal stamp,
Writh'd like a wounded dragon in his gore;

Then I reproach'd my fears that would not flee; “ And soon,” I said, “ shall Wisdom teach her lore “ In the low huts of them that toil and groan ! “ And, conquering by her happiness alone,

“Shall France compel the nations to be free, Till Love and Joy look round, and call the Earth their

own.”

IV.
Forgive me, Freedom! O forgive those dreams!

I hear thy voice, I hear thy loud lament,

From bleak Helvetia's icy caverns sent-
I hear thy groans upon her blood-stain'd streams!

Heroes, that for your peaceful country perish’d,
And ye that, fleeing, spot your mountain-snows

With bleeding wounds; forgive me, that I cherish'd One thought that ever bless'd your cruel foes !

To scatter rage, and traitorous guilt,
Where Peace her jealous home had built ;

A patriot-race to disinherit
Of all that made their stormy wilds so dear; .

And with inexpiable spirit
To taint the bloodless freedom of the mountaineer
O France, that mockest Heaven, adulterous, blind,

And patriot only in pernicious toils !
Are these thy boasts, Champion of human kind;

To mix with Kings in the low lust of sway,

Yell in the hunt, and share the murd'rous prey; To insult the shrine of Liberty with spoils

From freemen torn; to tempt and to betray?

The Sensual and the Dark rebel in vain,
Slaves by their own compulsion ! In mad game
They burst their manacles and wear the name

Of Freedom, graven on a heavier chain !
O Liberty! with profitless endeavour
Have I pursued thee, many a weary hour ;

But thou nor swell'st the victor's strain, nor ever
Didst breathe thy soul in forms of human power.

Alike from all, howe'er they praise thee,
(Nor prayer, nor boastful name delays thee)

Alike from Priestcraft's harpy minions,
And factious Blasphemy's obscener slaves,

Thou speedest on thy subtle pinions,
The guide of homeless winds, and playmate of the waves!
And there I felt thee!-on that sea-cliff's verge,

Whose pines, scarce travell’d by the breeze above,
Had made one murmur with the distant surge !
Yes, while I stood and gaz'd, my temples bare,
And shot my being through earth, sea and air,
Possessing all things with intensest love,

O Liberty! my spirit felt thee there,

February 1798.

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