Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, POLAND, by WILLIAM EDMONSTOUNE AYTOUN



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POLAND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Spirit of freedom, shadow of the god
Last Line: Fling wide the portal to the peerless queen!
Alternate Author Name(s): Bon Gaultier (With Theodore Martin)
Subject(s): Death; Freedom; Nations; Poland; Soldiers; Dead, The; Liberty


SPIRIT of Freedom, shadow of the God
Whom nations worship when he walks abroad;
Shadow, yet light, to which we turn our eyes,
When chafed by wrongs or smote by miseries;
Guardian of truth, without whose aid our life
Would be a warfare of eternal strife --
Where hast thou hid thy face and veil'd thy brow?
The hearts of men are searching for thee now.
Lo! from its watch a glorious star is driven,
There is a comet wand 'ring through thy heaven;
There is a plague upon the shrinking earth,
That threats thy reign with pestilence and dearth --
A deep and dark conspiracy of sin
Has ring'd and hemm'd thy ancient castle in.
We seek, but know not whither thou hast fled --
Come, ere the living shrink into the dead --
Come, ere the tyrant and his brother slave
Have rear'd their ghastly trophies o'er the brave
Who fought and fell on Poland's bloodiest day,
The martyrs in the last Thermopylae!
Let us not hear that cruel march again!
Come, like an earthquake traversing the plain,
That makes the hills resound, and cities shake;
O come, we pray thee, for thy children's sake,
Rise ere another field is lost and won,
Avenge us by a second Marathon!

O thou poor country! 'twas a crime for thee
Even to dream that freemen should be free;
It is a crime when weakness wars with might,
Or dares impeach its law that power is right;
It is a crime that ne'er can be forgiven,
To break a tyrant's chain and side with Heaven:
For this -- for uttering loud thy just appeal --
A hard and bitter penance dost thou feel.
Ask not for justice here, for she hath gone
To plead thy cause before a higher throne;
To show thy wrongs in characters of flame,
Before that footstool whence her mission came.
Speak not to men, they tamely see thee weep,
For they are bribed, or heartless, or asleep,
Or very fear hath bow'd their heads so low,
That none dare look on such a giant foe!

Thou desolated widow! fold thy veil --
There is no ear to hearken to thy tale;
There is no refuge, no deserted shed,
To screen from blasts, and furious storms, thy head --
The wounded bird can flutter to its nest,
But thou hast no such dwelling-place of rest;
Thou hast no friend to bid thee to his hall,
Thou hast no kinsman to avenge thy fall,
The monarchs of the earth have past thee by,
Nor deign'd to look upon thy misery.
Go thou and weep upon thy children's grave,
They died for thee, the beautiful and brave!
Go thou and weep at early dawn of morn,
Go thou and weep when glooming clouds are shorn
Of their day radiance, and the evening star
Above the dark blue mountains glimmers far --
Go thou and weep -- no planet of bright hope
Hath the ascendant in thy horoscope --
Hard fate hath fill'd for thee her greatest cup,
And forced thee to the dregs to quaff it up;
She hath no deadlier poison to bestow,
Go thou and weep, thou need'st not fear thy foe!

O Europe! Europe! falsely named the wise,
How could'st thou gaze on such a sacrifice?
Well didst thou know the base and guilty wile,
And yet thy lips were smiling all the while --
Tell me, I pray you, was the sight so sweet,
To view thy sister gasping at thy feet?
Was it so very pleasant to thy heart,
To see her blood upon thy garments start?
Is that a stain so slight that in a day,
Yea, in one age, it can be cleansed away?
Is freedom then a thing so very weak,
That thou wilt see it die, nor deign to speak?
Is thy voice gone, or doth it only err,
That it will flatter such a murderer?

Why hast thou slept in such a dreary trance,
Is freedom not thine own, thou glorious France?
Didst thou not draw for her the righteous sword,
Was not her name thy only rallying word?
Say, did she not within thy bosom burn,
Like unquench'd ashes in a burial urn --
Did she not riot there, until she leapt
Like light on darkness -- were the bonds not swept
From off thy limbs -- did not the tyrant's rod
Fall from his grasp when thou didst walk abroad?
Brandless and bright thou camest into the day,
All purged and cleansed from an iron sway --
Strong as an Amazon, yet just and pure
As those whose tales in lays of old endure.
Ah! when she call'd, why didst thou not arise,
Did none but thee deserve so rich a prize?
Did not thy blood throughout thy pulses stir?
Yes! thou hadst many a soul that worshipp'd her,
As all should worship -- many a heart was thine,
That would have died to save so blest a shrine.
Why wert thou patient then? Alas! Alas!
Thou let'st the time, thou should'st have taken, pass;
Thou should'st have risen, ere the blow was sped --
To save the living, not avenge the dead.
It is no fame to rear a trophied grave
O'er her who pray'd for thee to help and save;
No honour, but to give an empty word,
To carve the epitaph, not draw the sword --
The voice of him to whom thy crown is given
Was fainter surely than the call of Heaven;
Why did ye wait for one so cold and weak?
There was no need to rest till he should speak.
O gallant-hearted, yet unthinking men,
Hope not to make that king a citizen!
Where is the virtue lies within a name?
Bourbon or Orleans, it is all the same --
What firm reliance could ye place in one
Who joins two parties, yet dare side with none?
Viceroy to him, whose crimes have sent him forth,
To seek a banish'd dwelling in the north --
Sovereign of those whose hearts he cannot win,
Sworn unto virtue, yet allied to sin --
The umpire of a poor and petty throne --
A felon, with the robes of justice on,
Who prates of virtue, and eternal laws,
Yet sneers at freedom and at freedom's cause:
A Sylla of the north -- a laurell'd slave --
In words a patriot, and in deeds a knave!
Thou poor, thou broken, thou despised thing!
Thou voice, thou type, thou shadow of a king!
Think'st thou the hands that tore the forfeit crown
From off a tyrant's brow, will spare thine own?
Think'st thou that France will see her sister bleed,
Nor, though she could not ward, avenge the deed?
Thou tame apostate! wouldst thou dare to bar
The march of Freedom to her holy war?
Deem'st thou thy borrow'd sceptre e'er was made
To stop that bright, yet terrible crusade?
Away! away! thou canst not read the heart,
Thou hast no knowledge of her nobler part:
The spell within the bosom of the free,
Is a deep mystery -- too deep for thee.
The hills, the dungeon, are to thee the same;
Back -- back, and hide thy head for shame! for shame!

And thou, alas! where have thy terrors been,
Britain, my country, old and royal queen?
Thou, who hast drawn thy peerless sword so oft,
When the white flag of right was rear'd aloft;
Thou, unto whom the injured nations bow,
And bless the meteor justice of thy brow;
Thou haven, unto whom the merchant ships
Flee from the terrors of the dark eclipse;
Thou talisman, within whose charmed ring
Exists no evil -- no accursed thing;
Thou tower of strength, which tempests ne'er can shake,
Thou slumbering giantess, awake! awake!
O! saw'st thou not the breach in Warsaw's wall?
O! heard'st thou not the warrior's battle call?
Leapt not thy lifeblood with indignant thrill,
Throbb'd not thy brain, and wilt thou yet be still?
Thy King is one whose very name alone
Hath rear'd within his subject's hearts a throne.
Another Alfred, come to lead us back
Unto our ancient and deserted track;
To bring again those unforgotten days,
When virtue only won the meed of praise;
A lion-hearted prince, in whom we see
How bright beyond compare a crown may be,
When worn by him who never will disdain
His people's love to glorify his reign.
Nay, nay, thou wilt not sleep: this sacred spark
From Freedom's torch shall die not in the dark;
Be thou a refuge to the lost again.
Fling out thy battle like a cloud of rain,
Raise thy proud voice till quailing tyrants shrink,
And stand and tremble when they dare not think;
Be thou God's great and just avenger still,
And he will bless thee, as all nations will;
Be thou His scourge to drive this wolf away,
And break the fangs that marr'd that gallant prey.
Do this and prosper -- Kings shall come to thee,
And do high homage on their bended knee;
The day will laugh upon thee with such smiles
As morning sheds upon the Cyclad isles;
Ne'er shalt thou feel the envious tread of time,
Unscared by treason, and unstain'd by crime;
Youth shall be thine, that hath no wintry age;
And thou shalt keep, within a woven cage,
Calm'd into boldness, Peace, that fearful dove;
Thou shalt have gift for gift, and love for love;
Mightiest among the mighty, thou shalt be
The star of nightly worship to the free,
And men of every clime, on every shore,
Shall praise thee, bless thee, and almost adore!

But thou, Sarmatia! is there here below
A thing so lost, so desolate as thou?
Is there another heart that ever knew
Such pangs as those that rive thy bosom through?
Yes! there is one, who even now doth ride
In all the splendour of despotic pride;
He, who hath bid his dark familiars come
To crown thee with the wreath of martyrdom;
To whom the eastern hordes their tribute bring,
And hail him tyrant, surely never king;
Whose very name is like a noxious charm,
Or evil omen, spoke to work thee harm;
Whose aim hath been, ay, even from his birth,
To rouse 'gainst Heaven, the blinded powers of earth;
Within whose parch'd and fear-distemper'd brain,
A nameless brand is stamp'd -- the mark of Cain!
How can he dare, that royal wretch, to sleep
When victim nations raise their voice to weep?
The fearful curse that God hath written down,
The smoke from village, and from plunder'd town;
The anguish'd moan, the irons' heavy sound
Within the dungeon, far beneath the ground,
Where the young patriot, born amongst the hills,
Draws the damp breath, which poisons ere it kills;
Guilt, with its serpent eye, and frantic Fear,
Raving of murder where no hand is near;
These are the dreams that flit around his head,
These are the chamberlains that guard his bed.

Shall he escape a curse? O, do not speak --
For all that man could say were idly weak;
Within that heart of his more tortures live,
More galling stings, than words of fear could give;
Leave him alone, and let the silence roll,
That worst of terrors to a guilty soul;
For ever round him -- let him hear the voice
Of EVIL whisper closely -- 'Come -- rejoice!
Man, thou hast gain'd for us what we alone
Have striven to do, and yet have left undone.
Thanks for thy help -- such thanks as we can give,
Live, till thou know'st how sweet it is to live;
Take thou no thought of what thou hast to dread,
Leave thou repentance for thy dying bed;
Then shalt thou feel how easy 'tis to bear
That which thou callest horror or despair;
Then wilt thou pray for life -- but wherefore pray?
Thou canst not keep the night from following day.
The best and wisest of the human race
Have deem'd the grave a calm and quiet place;
Does not thy heart respond that it is so?'
Say, thou pale tyrant, darest thou answer -- no?
Darest thou believe there is a God on high,
Yet hope to shun his pure and searching eye?
Thou worse than atheist! there are some so blind,
Who think that death has nothing left behind;
That all alike, the wicked and the just,
Fret their short hour, then mingle with the dust;
Dragg'd from their joy, and rescued from their pain,
To lie for ever there, nor wake again.
Take that unto thee for a saving faith,
Believe there is no judgment after death;
Strive, if thou wilt, to ruin and remove
All that is left us here of hope or love;
Press on to riot in the pride of guilt,
And laugh to see the blood of nations spilt;
For, if thou joinest men of holier creed,
Past all redemption thou art damn'd indeed!

There was a time, ere tyranny begun,
When nations would not quail or bend to one,
Who thought a monarch too despised a thing,
And fain would make a despot of a king --
Insulted right and banish'd freedom then
Could find a friend in honourable men.
Brutus and Cato! yours are names that live
In that eternity which fame can give;
Glorious your deaths, nor have you died in vain,
Though now the chain you burst is link'd again;
If tyrants thus neglect the fate, which crime
Has brought their brethren in the olden time,
Let them but look a moment's space on him
Whose breath now makes the light of freedom dim,
Let them but see the certain prize of woe
Which guilt, to such as him, must still bestow,
Then, if they dare to gaze with steadfast eye,
On such a ghastly vision -- let them die!

Lo! where he sleeps -- can such as he repose --
How doth a tyrant dare his eyelids close?
To guileless hearts sleep is a blessed thing,
But to the guilty 'tis a piercing sting!
Is this like rest, this hot and hurried chase
Of fearful thoughts that anguish in his face?
Of palsied visions, and of dreams that swarm
Around the brain, with power to strike and harm?
O! what a soul is that, which flies for bliss,
Nay, for a refuge, to repose like this --
What are his waking thoughts, whose fancy teems
In sleep with torture -- Would you know his dreams?

They led him back, by their mysterious spell,
To scenes his heart remember'd but too well;
They show'd him what his conscience strove to hide
Even from himself, and all the world beside;
They pierced for him the bosom of the grave,
They raised the phantoms of the good and brave,
They purged the dimness from his eyes away,
And bade him count his deeds, them dare to pray.

He stood as if upon a mountain side,
Above a low fair country; far and wide
The fields were waving in the morning sun,
The happy time of harvest had begun;
The reaper plied him gaily at his toil,
And through the valleys rang a glad turmoil
Of merry voices; every heart was blest,
For labour was a pleasure after rest.
The earth, so kindred to the quiet skies,
Bloom'd like a little perfect paradise;
The lake lay waveless, and the rivers ran,
Leaping and singing, like a careless man,
Right through the bosom of the cloven woods,
And made a murmur in their solitudes,
That won the silence from the leafy shade --
Alas! that happiness like this must fade!

Far in the distance dim, there grew a mist
Like vapour by the morning glimpses kist;
At first a tiny thing; it rose and spread
Nearer, and nearer, till it gathered
Substance and form; athwart the sky it came:
Is it the smoke of some devouring flame?
The peasants gazed in silence. Then faint sounds
Came indistinctly from the forest bounds --
A bugle note -- sometimes a startled cry,
As of a man in sudden jeopardy --
Then louder -- fiercer -- Ha! 'tis coming near --
At times the vivid glancing of a spear
Sprang in the wood. A loud and pealing drum
Beat to the charge. Fly! fly! your murderers come.
They burst upon the plain. A sable steed
Bore him who seem'd that furious band to lead.
The dreamer started. Fast the Cossack came,
His long lance beaming like a burning flame,
That must be quench'd -- in what? In guiltless blood!
And quench'd it was; for, where the reapers stood
They met the charge; and when the charge was done,
On bleeding corpses look'd the blushing sun;
A brand was cast among the half-sheaved corn,
It caught, it kindled, and the bugle horn
Rang in the distance, till a shrilling yell
From the far village waken'd, like a spell,
The mountain echo; shriek on shriek arose,
Blent in strange contrast with the shouts of foes
In horrid triumph -- faint they grew, then died,
For death is silent. This is kingly pride!
What price for this, thou sleeper, shalt thou pay?
It ended, and that vision pass'd away.

Another came. It was a gloomy cell,
Where, through cross'd bars, the feeble glimpses fell
Against the wall, where hung a broken chain,
Whose rusted links gave back no light again.
It seem'd as if for years no human face
Had come to shudder at so drear a place,
Where nothing, save the roof-drop's fretting sound,
Intruded on the lifelessness profound.
There, in a corner, where a rotting bed
Of straw was flung, a naked corpse was spread;
'Tis he, the ruthless wretch! whose envious feet
Trampled on virtue in her holiest seat;
Who brought the storm of war to cloud the sky,
Whose very brightness pain'd his jealousy.
A flaxen cord was twisted round his neck;
Upon his blue lips lay a crimson speck;
His eyes were starting underneath the brow,
Bent with the scowl of hatred even now;
His hands were clench'd, as in the frantic strife
They griped and struggled hard, for life -- for life!
Convulsed his limbs. Ay, sleeper! strive to scream --
Is there not ghastly truth within a dream?
Know'st thou that face? Well may the tortured sweat
Stream on thy brow, thou dost remember it!
How can a brother e'er forget a brother?
You were the children of the self-same mother;
You both have sat upon one nurse's knee,
And clasp'd each other's necks with infant glee;
And now -- nay! wherefore turn, and strive to hide
Thy countenance? -- thou art a fratricide!
Blush not at that, it is thy noblest deed,
There was no fitter sacrifice to bleed;
A better service in a better cause,
Was never done to earth's insulted laws,
And homeless thousands will for once combine,
To thank, if not to praise, an act of thine --
O thou most stern avenger! -- ancient times
Have known dark virtues nearly link'd to crimes;
A father then -- a pure and virtuous one --
Hath raised the axe to slay a traitor son;
But thou -- no other heart, save thine, can know
What made thee strike to merciful a blow;
It were no sin, if justice only sped
Her hallow'd vengeance at the felon's head;
Her deeds are pure, her mission is divine,
But sin has gain'd much empire over thine.
'Tis a strange law, or else we greatly err,
For murderer to slay a murderer:
Blood cannot wash away a bloody stain,
And deeper marks of slaughter must remain.
If to thyself thou seemest guiltless, then
None dare accuse thee to thy fellow men.
No price for this, thou sleeper, shalt thou pay.
It ended -- and that vision pass'd away.

Another came -- Within a deep ravine
A camp was pitch'd -- proud dreamer, it is thine!
The soldiers of a thousand distant coasts
Swell'd up that army with their gather'd hosts:
The dull Siberian from his pine-tree shade,
The Cossack, Tartar, Russian, renegade,
Were there together. Thick as leaves they lay,
Swept from the forest in an autumn day,
Myriads, who cared not how they urged the blow,
And hardly knew their master from their foe;
Reckless of guilt, and strangers unto shame,
Their pastime murder, plunder all their aim.
O! hath high heaven its thunderbolts forgot --
Is there a hand can check them -- is there not?

Earth was its own avenger. Secret death
Breathed out invisibly a poison breath;
Engender'd in her dark and silent womb,
It rose, like vapour from a noisome tomb,
Damp as a mildew, thin, and piercing cold
As the thaw breath upon a wintry wold:
It crept amidst the army. As of yore
The Pythian shafts flew fast along the shore,
And victim warriors strew'd the bloodless sod,
Smote by the vengeance of the angry God --
So flew the pestilence. For many a year
The soldier stood in battle's front of fear;
Saw the hot iron tempest showering fast,
Yet 'scaped the fury of its heedless blast;
Now, like a prize, his forfeit life is won,
The plague can do what war has left undone,
For it hath gain'd the mastery -- the brave,
The craven, master, chieftain, serf, and slave,
All sink alike -- the sharp and griding pain
Thrills through the body even to the brain;
Hot madness glares within the bloodshot eye,
They writhe and shriek, and curse, blaspheme, and die!
The living turn with loathing from the dead,
They dare not fling the dust upon their head.
They lie and rot, and moulder -- they are given
Unto the charnel-worm, and winds of heaven:
Long may their children stand at even-tide,
By the low cottage on the mountain side,
And think they hear the distant bugle-horn
Of him they love, across the blue lake borne;
Long may they wait, till hope grows pale and sick,
And fearful thoughts come crowding fast and thick;
The winds may come and dirge them, and the rain
Wash with its tears their relics on the plain,
And the rank grass may spring, and close around --
It is their only monument and mound! --
What price for this, thou sleeper, shalt thou pay?
It ended, and that vision pass'd away.

Another came -- Within the deepen'd blue,
Faintly look'd out a pensive star or two;
The moon was down, the wind, like one in pain,
Drove its long sigh across the snowy plain:
There are dark stains upon that purest page,
Stern marks of man's accursed sacrilege;
Footsteps deep dented, and a trampled targe,
Where broke the thunder of the squadron-charge.
It is a battle-field: The watchfire's light
Gleams from a distant camp into the night --
What mighty power is centred in a breath!
There moveth life, here lieth silent death.
That day, upon a field of no renown,
Freedom and Murder sat together down;
The stakes were armies, warring all around,
And struggling sternly for the vantage ground;
Freedom was faint, and on her forehead pale
The mantling fears wrote down a crimson tale;
But Murder's eye was fix'd, her hand threw fast,
Like one whose life was set upon a cast:
And when the latest, deepest die was flung,
She clapp'd her hands with joy, and then upsprung,
And shriek'd, -- ''Tis mine! -- 'tis mine! this field shall be
Named of my name -- the tomb of Liberty!'

The wolf hath stolen from his mountain cave,
And glideth down like one who robs a grave;
His eye is red, his throat is parch'd and dumb,
Scarce can you hear his footsteps as they come;
He springs, with savage haste and grim delight,
Upon the first dead corse that meets his sight,
And tears, and feeds, and scowls with jealous eye
Upon the pamper'd vulture flitting by --
Czar! there are vaults wherein thy fathers sleep,
Round which the marble statues bend and weep;
O, fitting truth! no tears but those are shed
Above the cold and marble-hearted dead.
Yet it were nobler far, if they had died
In such a cause, with none to mourn beside;
Yea, had they found, like these, a living tomb
Within that lean and loathsome creature's womb,
It had been better far. Then Fame had sung
Their righteous deeds with her immortal tongue;
Then had their names been register'd indeed
Within the Book which none but freemen read.
What is their memory? What will be thine own?
The idle record of a lying stone! --
A worthless parasite's regret; or worse,
A purchased prayer! -- Will it efface a curse?
There, with thy kindred, shalt thou lie and rot; --
Hope thou thy name at least may be forgot!

Seest thou that dying soldier on the ground,
Whose life is ebbing from a ghastly wound?
He hath no bed except the frozen snow,
No friend to wipe the death-damp from his brow;
His eye is struggling through the mist afar
To catch the glimmer of that feeble star;
Why doth he seek its light so faint and dim?
It is no star of hope, alas, to him!
Ay -- but it shineth on his quiet home,
That nest of peace, where war hath never come;
Within his fancy, even now he sees
The old thatch'd roof beneath the linden trees,
The cradle, where his youngest infant sleeps,
Rock'd by his widow'd wife, who bends and weeps;
He sees his children that around her kneel,
And try to calm the grief they cannot feel.
Say, doth he weep? No tear is in his eye:
Tyrant! It is no ghastly thing to die!
He fears it not, he hath no damning sin
To lime the soul, or cage it fluttering in.
His part is done -- it was a glorious part!
He shielded freedom even with his heart,
Till it was pierced, and now into the air
He breathes for her a blessing and a prayer,
Shuts with a holy smile his heavy eyes,
Commends his country to his God, and dies!

Dreamer! if death had enter'd in thy tower,
To count the moments of thy latest hour --
If the hot fever madness stretch'd thee there,
With nothing left but penitence or prayer --
Wouldst thou, like him, compose thy limbs to rest,
Unscared by phantom forms, and thoughts unblest?
Wouldst thou, like him, peruse the tablets o'er
That lie deep graven in the bosom's core,
Nor find one black, or one unholy deed
Within the page of conscience register'd?
Say, wouldst thou calmly lay thee down to sleep,
Bless those who sigh, and comfort those who weep,
Then turn away unto the blessed shore,
Where sorrow clouds and sin distracts no more?
Ah! wherefore ask of thee a thing so vain --
That very thought hath rankled in thy brain;
'Tis shunn'd by thee, as one in crowded throng
Shuns him whom he hath wrought some deadly wrong,
And keeps his face averted when they meet.
Crime, to such hearts as thine, is surely sweet,
Or stern repentance is a thing of fear,
Fled from, and shuffled off from year to year;
That thought to thee, is like the naked sword
Hung o'er the head of the Sicilian lord,
Seen at the feast, and glittering through the veil,
Until the cheek of mirth grew blanch'd and pale.
Hast thou no wish, no hope to rise and flee?
Stay, then, and perish! -- few will weep for thee.

Awake, thou sleeper! from thy mental sight
The dreams have pass'd unto the waning night;
Yet, ere thou goest forth, remember this,
Though old the doctrine, true the moral is,
The weak are judged less hardly than the strong,
A king who sins, commits a triple wrong:
True are the words, and more than man-inspired,
'Much hath been given, and much shall be required.'
Didst thou receive thy power from Freedom's God
To change thy sceptre for an iron rod;
To tear the gem of mercy from thy crown,
To hew, without remorse, the green tree down;
To make the gyving chain, and dungeon breath;
The punishment for those who fear'd not death;
To loose thy savage and relentless band,
Like swarming locusts on a peaceful land;
To pluck down Freedom from her blessed throne,
And for her standard there exalt thine own?
O, wilt thou hear him vaunt, thou righteous Heaven!
That for such ends as these his power was given?
Wilt thou not strike amidst his sinful mirth,
This royal miscreant even to the earth?
Hast thou no chosen champion of the free,
Is there no Attila to strike for thee?
Or wilt thou still thy wrath and vengeance hide,
When we have none to range on virtue's side,
When we have grown so frantic, as to quell
The torch our fathers lit and loved so well?
It may be so -- but these, what have they done?
It was their light, more honour'd than the sun;
Their beacon-fire upon the distant cape,
When rose the ocean in its hideous shape;
Their pledge of safety; they have kept it well,
Alas! why was it not unquenchable?
Thou know'st it was a virtue not to sin,
To burst the chain, when tyrants hemm'd them in;
Thou know'st how ill the truly noble heart
Can stoop to act a slave's dishonest part;
How life itself is weary, dull, and vain,
When not a limb can move without a chain.
When tyrants and their minions dare to thrust
A cruel arm against the brave and just,
The naked hand will rise against the steel;
A trampled worm will turn upon the heel.
Earth is abased, but 'tis not brought so low
That it must bend to every vaunting foe.
Are we so mean, that rude and ruffian might
Can make the evil cause appear the right?
Is Justice then so terrified or rare,
That she must lose her homage in despair?
No, no, it is not so! Though long delay'd
That cause, the cause of nations shall be made;
The good, the true, the terrible, and strong
Have slept awhile -- they will not slumber long;
Now, even now, men's hearts are wide awake,
Too long has truth been lost for treason's sake.
Already hath the sky obscured its face,
The clouds are gathering in their muster-place;
The storm is climbing up its angry path,
Big with the vengeful thunders of its wrath;
None but the innocent may hope to stay.
Whither, ye tyrants, will you flee away?

O! that a new Tyrtaeus would awake,
To speak aloud as never man yet spake;
To scatter forth his passion like a shower,
With voice of glory, and with words of power;
To rouse the passive nations, till they feel
The startling justice of that high appeal;
Until the spirit, caged within the soul,
Were free, and bounding onwards to the goal!
Until they knew it were a crime to rest,
When one brave heart was prison'd or opprest!
Until, with one accord, they started up,
Strong, as a giant rising from his cup!
Bright, as an eagle at the dawn of day,
Who shakes the slumbers from his eyes away,
Plumes his long wings, and meditates his flight
Above the clouds that curtain down the light!
Then would we purge the world of all the crime
That stains and blurs the latest page of time --
Then would we strike, ay, even in his den,
This coward robber of defenceless men --
Then would we burst the gate, and snap the chain,
Bring forth the captive into light again,
Drive the dark savage to his native wild,
And leave at least half Europe undefiled!

Our days of sloth are number'd to the fill --
Our fathers would have risen when we were still.
Yet fear not, Poland, from the slumbering heart,
Our better spirit cannot all depart;
A voice is pealing loudly in an ear,
That does not sleep, though it is slow to hear;
Thou art not friendless, though thou art alone,
Thy lips are mute, but memory hath not gone.
It were a shameful and a deathless stain,
To let a cry like thine be heard in vain.
Our annals shall not bear upon their face,
The damning marks of such a foul disgrace;
They shall not tell we heard a suppliant's call,
And idly stood beside to see her fall;
They shall not tell that Britain's voice was given
To hail a deed that bore the curse of heaven!
Once, once, indeed, we raised a cruel hand
Against the freemen of a daughter land,
And met, as all who dare the like should meet,
Our just reward in vengeance and defeat:
But not again shall such a deed appear,
To wring from Freedom's eye one bitter tear --
He, who hath spent long years of sad unrest,
A prison's inmate, or a dungeon's guest,
Where he could only count the lagging hour
By one faint sunbeam sliding on the floor;
Where he could only guess the joyous spring,
By the mild breeze and gay birds twittering;
He would not doom to such a lingering fate,
The very object of his deadliest hate;
How can we tamely see the vanquished brave,
Borne from the reeking scaffold to the grave,
And not remember how our fathers died,
To keep our glorious birthright sanctified?
The field where Hampden's blameless blood was shed --
The block where gallant Sidney bow'd his head --
Are these forgotten? Has their memory gone
Like common trifles idly gazed upon?
Have we forgot how Scotland's patriots rose
To fight the war of God with banded foes?
Far up the hills, amidst some lonely glen,
They met, the brave and persecuted men!
A holy remnant of the just and true,
Sworn to that faith which tyrants never knew:
Hunted from house and home, they gather'd there
To offer up to Heaven their spotless prayer;
They knelt around, while one, with lifted hand,
Invoked a blessing on that martyr band,
From Him, who never yet hath heard in vain,
The righteous murmur, or the good complain:
Then rose they up, and sang with one accord,
Their sweet and simple anthem to the Lord;
Till the far shepherd on the mountain's brow,
Who heard the notes arise so faint and low,
Might deem in such a place, that holy hymn
Was raised and chanted by the seraphim!
They went to battle -- not as armies go,
Who blindly smite an unoffending foe;
Forth to a glorious field they march'd unaw'd,
The chosen champions of the living God:
They fought and triumph'd, as the good and just,
Who fight in such a cause, for ever must.
We are their children! Have we then no pride
To rise and combat on our fathers' side?
Are we not sworn unto the sacred fight,
To crush the guilty, and defend the right?
The very blood that runs within our veins
Throbs at the name of prison, or of chains:
The cup of liberty is not so small
That we can drain it -- it was fill'd for all.
Britain, arise! O, yet while it is time,
In such a cause delay is worse than crime:
Speak! that the tyrant's soul may shrink with fear;
Speak! with a voice, that all the world may hear;
Thy wrath as with a herald's trump proclaim;
For where is he who quails not at thy name?
O sleep not, wait not, do not tarry long --
Be just, be brave, be good as thou art strong;
Come, thou fair Queen; for, as the traveller eyes
The first grey streaks upon the eastern skies,
So earth has fix'd her anxious gaze on thee:
Come forth -- come forth -- thou idol of the free!
Warrior of Justice! Freedom's noblest son,
Bright is the wreath of glory thou hast won,
Thou patriot, worthy of the olden time --
Thou friend of right -- thou enemy of crime!
Great Czartoryski, thy transcendent name
Is the last enter'd in the roll of fame:
Weep not because thou couldst not burst the chain,
For often truth has drawn her sword in vain.
More than his blood the Spartan could not give,
And Cato died when justice ceased to live --
Yet do not weep, for thou hast gain'd a meed,
And won a laurel fresh and bright indeed.
Thou more than king! when ages yet unborn
Shall brand the tyrant with the stamp of scorn,
Those deeds of thine shall win thee more renown,
Than clings around the best and greatest crown;
Fathers shall bid their children think of thee,
And learn to worship truth and liberty;
Thou shalt be sung in many a poet's lay,
As the best champion of our modern day;
Pilgrims shall come from farthest shores of earth
To see the glorious land that gave thee birth;
A deeper homage than at Mecca's shrine
Is paid unto the Prophet, shall be thine.
Loved in thy life, and honoured in thy grave --
Such are the glories that await the brave!

Fear not, poor country! nothing is so great
But hath some foe in those of worse estate;
What is so bright that looks not faint and pale,
When seen through Jealousy's distorted veil?
The sun himself is dim, when darkness strips
Half of his lustre in the slow eclipse;
Yet, even as that shadow moves away,
And unjust night gives place to glorious day,
So shall that gloom of terror and despair
Melt from thy brow, like vapour into air;
Pure and unblemish'd as a virgin bride,
Shalt thou go forth in beauty's conscious pride;
Worship'd as one of renovated birth,
The last and fairest wonder of the earth,
In whom, as in a Goddess, we behold
All that the poets feign'd and dreamt of old.
Bring forth the crown, the robe, and royal gem.
Kneel down, and bend the knee to offer them.
Let none, except the guilty voice, be dumb,
Shout! for the times of happiness have come;
The gloom is gone, the night hath pass'd away,
We hail the dawning of a glorious day.
Hope, the bright bird that sings as soon as born,
Hath pour'd his lay to greet the rising morn;
And Peace, the holiest of created things,
Is there, with balm and healing on his wings!
Ye, who have seen her in the trail hour,
When fear, and pain, and grief had triple power;
Ye, who have heard her sobs of sore distress,
And breath'd a blessing when none else would bless;
You are the chosen of her festal throng,
Come forth, and join her triumph and her song;
She seeks the blessed shrine where freemen bow,
To offer up her thanks, and pledge a vow:
Thanks for the spirit that has leapt abroad,
And roused the just to fight the war of God!
Thanks, for the holy arm no more delay'd,
Now lifted up to make the proud dismay'd;
A vow of sacred and undying birth,
Against the banded tyrants of the earth,
Which in her heart of hearts shall still remain,
Till man is cleansed from every blot and stain!
He who would live, come over to her side,
Before that vow is sworn and ratified;
By her a holy war, a just crusade,
To strike the powers of darkness, shall be made;
The sword which fathers to their sons bequeath,
Again for freedom shall forsake its sheath,
Knit to the hand, that never raised before
Its gleaming blade with such resistless power;
There will be beacons glaring through the night --
There will be warriors arming for the fight --
There will be gathering from the glade and glen,
Unto the camp of brave and righteous men;
They will march out, a pure and purging flame,
To free the world from bondage, sin, and shame:
They will be conquerors, for who shall stay
To meet with Vengeance in its stern array?
Then shall we know the times that bards of old,
And gifted prophets in their lays foretold;
Peace shall descend from Heaven, and banish'd love
Shall haunt again the mountain and the grove;
Again at shut of eve, and dawn of morn,
The low sweet notes of blessing shall be borne,
Like rich and fuming incense shall they rise,
Earth's grateful tribute to the smiling skies:
The serpent, Hate, shall find some cavern deep,
And coil itself to everlasting sleep:
And Fear shall die, and Death itself grow mild,
And seek the aged as it seeks the child,
Its terrors sooth'd, its anguish lost and gone,
Itself a passport to a blessed throne!

O come, my brothers! at her glorious sign
We go to kneel and worship at the shrine --
We go to pledge the oath with heart and hand,
As listed champions in that chosen band --
We go to war with enemies that lie
Betwixt our life and immortality!
The sun is climbing proudly up the skies,
O hasten, hasten, ye are slow to rise!
Lo! they are standing at the temple gate;
For us alone the bridal train doth wait;
Too long already hath their tarrying been, --
Fling wide the portal to the peerless Queen!





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