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WHEN I have borne in memory what has tamed
Great nations, how ennobling thoughts depart
When men change swords for ledgers, and desert
The student's bower for gold, some fears unnamed
I had, my country! Am I to be blamed?
But, when I think of Thee, and what Thou art,
But dearly must we prize thee; we who find
In thee a bulwark of the cause of men ;
And I by my affection was beguiled.
What wonder if a poet, now and then,
Among the many movements of his mind,
Felt for thee as a Lover or a Child.
The Ode commences with an Address to the Divine
Providence, that regulates into one vast harmony, all the events of time, however calamitous some of them may appear to mortals. The second Strophe calls on men to suspend their private joys and sorrows, and devote them for a while to the cause of human nature in general. The first Epode speaks of the Empress of Russia, who died of an apoplexy on the 17th of November 1796; having just concluded a subsidiary treaty with the Kings combined against France. The first and second Antistrophe describe the Image of the Departing Year, &c. as in a vision. The second Epode prophecies, in anguish of spirit, the downfall of this country.
ODE ON THE DEPARTING YEAR.*
SPIRIT who sweepest the wild Harp of Time!
It is most hard, with an untroubled ear
Thy dark inwoven harmonies to hear !
With inward stillness, and submitted mind;
When lo! its folds far waving on the wind, I saw the train of the DEPARTING YEAR!
Starting from my silent sadness
Then with no unholy madness, Ere yet the enter'd cloud foreclos'd my sight, I rais'd th' impetuous song, and solemnized his flight.
* This Ode was composed on the 24th, 25th, and 26th day of December 1796; and was first published on the last day of that year.
Hither, from the recent Tomb,
From the Prison's direr gloom,
From Distemper's midnight anguish; And thence, where Poverty doth waste and languish;
Or where, his two bright torches blending,
Love illumines Manhood's maze;
Hither, in perplexed dance,
Whose indefatigable Sweep
Raises it's fateful strings from sleep,
And each domestic hearth,
Weep and rejoice!
And now advance in saintly Jubilee
They too obey thy name, Divinest LIBERTY!