Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DOWNFALL OF POLAND [FALL OF WARSAW, 1794], by THOMAS CAMPBELL



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DOWNFALL OF POLAND [FALL OF WARSAW, 1794], by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O sacred truth! Thy triumph ceased awhile
Last Line: And freedom shrieked -- as kosciusko fell!
Subject(s): Freedom; Kosciuszko, Thaddeus (1746-1817); Poland; Liberty


O SACRED Truth! thy triumph ceased awhile,
And Hope, thy sister, ceased with thee to smile,
When leagued Oppression poured to Northern
wars
Her whiskered pandours and her fierce hussars,
Waved her dread standard to the breeze of morn,
Pealed her loud drum, and twanged her trumpet
horn;
Tumultuous horror brooded o'er her van,
Presaging wrath to Poland -- and to man!
Warsaw's last champion from her height sur
veyed, --
Wide o'er the fields, a waste of ruin laid;
"O Heaven!" he cried, "my bleeding country
save! --
Is there no hand on high to shield the brave?
Yet, though destruction sweep these lovely plains,
Rise, fellow-men! our country yet remains!
By that dread name, we wave the sword on high,
And swear for her to live -- with her to die!"
He said, and on the rampart-heights arrayed
His trusty warriors, few, but undismayed;
Firm-paced and slow, a horrid front they form,
Still as the breeze, but dreadful as the storm;
Low murmuring sounds along their banners fly,
Revenge, or death, -- the watchword and reply;
Then pealed the notes, omnipotent to charm,
And the loud tocsin tolled their last alarm! --
In vain, alas! in vain, ye gallant few!
From rank to rank your volleyed thunder flew: --
O, bloodiest picture in the book of Time!
Sarmatia. fell, unwept, without a crime;
Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe,
Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her woe!
Dropped from her nerveless grasp the shattered
spear,
Closed her bright eye, and curbed her high career;
Hope, for a season, bade the world farewell,
And Freedom shrieked -- as Kosciusko fell!




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