Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ODE TO PEACE, by JAMES BEATTIE



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ODE TO PEACE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Peace, heaven-descended maid! Whose powerful voice
Last Line: Slow wing'd her way sublime, and mingled with the morn.
Subject(s): Peace


I. 1.

PEACE, heaven-descended maid! whose powerful voice
From ancient darkness call'd the morn,
Of jarring elements composed the noise;
When Chaos, from his old dominion torn,
With all his bellowing throng,
Far, far was hurl'd the void abyss along;
And all the bright angelic choir
To loftiest raptures tune the heavenly lyre,
Pour'd in loud symphony the impetuous strain;
And every fiery orb and planet sung,
And wide through night's dark desolate domain
Rebounding long and deep the lays triumphant rung.

I. 2.

Oh, whither art thou fled, Saturnian reign?
Roll round again, majestic Years!
To break fell Tyranny's corroding chain,
From Woe's wan cheek to wipe the bitter tears,
Ye Years, again roll round!
Hark, from afar what loud tumultuous sound,
While echoes sweep the winding vales,
Swells full along the plains, and loads the gales!
Murder deep-roused, with the wild whirlwind's haste
And roar of tempest, from her cavern springs;
Her tangled serpents girds around her waist,
Smiles ghastly stern, and shakes her gore-distilling wings.

I. 3.

Fierce up the yielding skies
The shouts redoubling rise:
Earth shudders at the dreadful sound,
And all is listening, trembling round.
Torrents, that from yon promontory's head
Dash'd furious down in desperate cascade,
Heard from afar amid the lonely night,
That oft have led the wanderer right,
Are silent at the noise.
The mighty ocean's more majestic voice,
Drown'd in superior din, is heard no more;
The surge in silence sweeps along the foamy shore.

II. 1.

The bloody banner streaming in the air,
Seen on yon sky-mix'd mountain's brow,
The mingling multitudes, the madding car,
Pouring impetuous on the plain below,
War's dreadful lord proclaim.
Bursts out by frequent fits the expansive flame.
Whirl'd in tempestuous eddies flies
The surging smoke o'er all the darken'd skies.
The cheerful face of heaven no more is seen,
Fades the morn's vivid blush to deadly pale:
The bat flits transient o'er the dusky green,
Night's shrieking birds along the sullen twilight sail.

II. 2.

Involved in fire-streak'd gloom the car comes on.
The mangled steeds grim Terror guides.
His forehead writhed to a relentless frown,
Aloft the angry Power of Battles rides:
Grasp'd in his mighty hand
A mace tremendous desolates the land;
Thunders the turret down the steep,
The mountain shrinks before its wasteful sweep;
Chill horror the dissolving limbs invades,
Smit by the blasting lightning of his eyes;
A bloated paleness beauty's bloom o'erspreads,
Fades every flowery field, and every verdure dies.

II. 3.

How startled Frenzy stares,
Bristling her ragged hairs!
Revenge the gory fragment gnaws;
See, with her griping vulture-claws
Imprinted deep, she rends the opening wound!
Hatred her torch blue-streaming tosses round;
The shrieks of agony and clang of arms
Re-echo to the fierce alarms
Her trump terrific blows.
Disparting from behind, the clouds disclose
Of kingly gesture a gigantic form,
That with his scourge sublime directs the whirling storm.

III. 1.

Ambition, outside fair! within more foul
Than fellest fiend from Tartarus sprung,
In caverns hatch'd, where the fierce torrents roll
Of Phlegethon, the burning banks along,
Yon naked waste survey:
Where late was heard the flute's mellifluous lay;
Where late the rosy-bosom'd Hours
In loose array danced lightly o'er the flowers;
Where late the shepherd told his tender tale;
And, waked by the soft-murmuring breeze of morn,
The voice of cheerful labour fill'd the dale;
And dove-eyed Plenty smiled, and waved her liberal horn.

III. 2.

Yon ruins sable from the wasting flame
But mark the once resplendent dome;
The frequent corse obstructs the sullen stream,
And ghosts glare horrid from the sylvan gloom.
How sadly silent all!
Save where outstretch'd beneath yon hanging wall
Pale Famine moans with feeble breath,
And Torture yells, and grinds her bloody teeth --
Though vain the muse, and every melting lay,
To touch thy heart, unconscious of remorse!
Know, monster, know, thy hour is on the way,
I see, I see the Years begin their mighty course.

III. 3.

What scenes of glory rise
Before my dazzled eyes!
Young Zephyrs wave their wanton wings,
And melody celestial rings:
Along the lilied lawn the nymphs advance,
Flush'd with love's bloom, and range the sprightly dance:
The gladsome shepherds on the mountain-side,
Array'd in all their rural pride,
Exalt the festive note,
Inviting Echo from her inmost grot --
But ah! the landscape glows with fainter light,
It darkens, swims, and flies for ever from my sight.

IV. 1.

Illusions vain! Can sacred Peace reside,
Where sordid gold the breast alarms,
Where cruelty inflames the eye of Pride,
And Grandeur wantons in soft Pleasure's arms?
Ambition! these are thine;
These from the soul erase the form divine;
These quench the animating fire
That warms the bosom with sublime desire.
Thence the relentless heart forgets to feel,
Hate rides tremendous on the o'erwhelming brow,
And midnight Rancour grasps the cruel steel,
Blaze the funereal flames, and sound the shrieks of Woe.

IV. 2.

From Albion fled, thy once beloved retreat,
What region brightens in thy smile,
Creative Peace, and underneath thy feet
Sees sullen flowers adorn the rugged soil?
In bleak Siberia blows,
Waked by thy genial breath, the balmy rose?
Waved over by thy magic wand,
Does life inform fell Libya's burning sand?
Or does some isle thy parting flight detain,
Where roves the Indian through primeval shades,
Haunts the pure pleasures of the woodland reign,
And led by Reason's ray the path of Nature treads?

IV. 3.

On Cuba's utmost steep,
Far leaning o'er the deep,
The Goddess' pensive form was seen.
Her robe of Nature's varied green
Waved on the gale; grief dimm'd her radiant eyes,
Her swelling bosom heaved with boding sighs:
She eyed the main; where, gaining on the view,
Emerging from the ethereal blue,
'Midst the dread pomp of war
Gleam'd the Iberian streamer from afar.
She saw; and, on refulgent pinions borne,
Slow wing'd her way sublime, and mingled with the morn.





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