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SPIRIT! who sweepest the wild harp of Time,
It is most hard with an untroubled ear
Thy dark inwoven harmonies to hear! Yet, mine eye fix'd on Heaven's unchanging clime, Long had I listened, free from mortal fear,
With inward stillness, and a bowed mind :
When lo! far onwards waving on the wind I saw the skirts of the DEPARTING YEAR! Starting from
silent sadness Then with no unholy madness, Ere yet the enter'd cloud forbade my sight, I raised th' impetuous song, and solemniz'd his flight.
Hither from the recent tomb,
Love illumines manhood's maze ;
• This Ode was written on the 24th, 25th, and 26th days of December, 1796; and published separately on the last day of the year.
Or where o'er cradled infants bending
Hope has fixed her wishful gaze:
Forbids its fateful strings to sleep,
And cach domestic heartli,
Weep and rejoice !
And now advance in saintly jubilee Justice and Truth! They, too, have heard the spell,
They, too, obey thy name, divinest Liberty !
I mark'd Ambition in his war-array !
I heard the mailed Monarch's troublous cry“ Ah! wherefore does the Northern Conqueress stay! Groans not her chariot o'er its onward way?” Fly; mailed monarch fly!
Stunn'd by Death’s “ twice mortal” mace,
No more on murder's lurid face The insatiate hag shall gloat with drunken eye!
Manes of the unnumber'd slain !
Ye that gasp'd on Warsaw's plain ! Ye that erst at Ismail's tower,
When human ruin chok'd the streams, Fell in conquest's glutted hour,
Mid women's shrieks and infants' screams!
Whose shrieks, whose screams were vain to stir
Sudden blasts of triumph swelling,
Rush around her narrow dwelling! Th' exterminating fiend is fled
(Foul her life, and dark her doom) Mighty army of the dead
Dance, like death-fires, round her tomb !
Departing Year! 'twas on no earthly shore
My soul beheld thy vision! Where alone,
Voiceless and stern, before the cloudy throne, Aye Memory sits; there, garmented with gore, With many an unimaginable groan
Thou stored’st thy sad hours ! Silence ensued,
Deep silence o'er th' ethereal multitude, Whose wreathed locks with snow-white glories shon?,
Then, his eye wild ardours glancing,
From the choired gods advancing,
On every harp, on every tongue,
Love and uncreated light,
Seize thy terrors, Arm of might!
By Belgium's corse impeded flood !*
By Vendée's steaming brother's blood ! By Peace with proffer'd insult scar'd,
Masked hate and envying scorn!
By years of havoc yet unborn!
Strange, horrible, and foul !
Avenger, rise !
For ever shall the bloody Island scowl ? For aye, unbroken, shall her cruel bow
Shoot famine's arrows o'er thy ravag'd world? Hark! how wide Nature joins her groans below! Rise, God of Nature, rise! Ah why those bolts
The voice had ceas’d, the phantoms fled ;
My ears throb hot; my eye-balls start;
And my thick and struggling breath
Imitates the toil of death!
The soldier on the war-field spread,
Death-like he dozes among heaps of dead!
• The Rhine.
(The strife is o'er, the day-light fled,
And the night-wind clamours hoarse ! See! the startful wretch's head
Lies pillowed on a brother's corse !)
O doom'd to fall, enslav'd and vile,
Echo to the bleat of flocks;
And Ocean mid his uproar wild
Speaks safely to his island-child.
Has social quiet lov'd thy shore;
All nations curse thee; and with eager wond'ring
Of central fires thro' nether seas upthund'ring
By livid fount, or roar of blazing stream,