Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PRIZE ADDRESS; RECITED AT THE OPENING OF THE PORTSMOUTH THEATRE, by CHARLES SPRAGUE



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PRIZE ADDRESS; RECITED AT THE OPENING OF THE PORTSMOUTH THEATRE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Twas fancy's hour -- uplifted on the blast
Last Line: And all the graces bless the drama's reign.
Subject(s): Theater & Theaters


'T WAS Fancy's hour — uplifted on the blast,
O'er lands and seas my chartered spirit passed,
Till, all in Eden's ancient beauty dressed,
A fair, strange clime my wondering vision blessed.

There, as I gazed, in nature's strength and grace
Roamed the red warriors of a nameless race;
Swift flew their barks along the rocky shore,
Bright blazed their fires, loud rose their battle roar;
Rude love and ruder hate controlled the spot,
Tribes conquered tribes, and were in turn forgot.

Years seemed to roll — then all went fading by,
And where they stood, beneath the same blue sky,
Lo! a new race — an iron-hearted band,
The banished wanderers from a distant land;
These sweet Religion's sacred flag unfurled,
And bade it float to bless another world.

Soon from each startled vale the axe rang loud,
And the old monarchs of the forest bowed;
Art built her domes in Nature's silent bowers,
And peace and gladness crowned the Pilgrim's hours.

So ages passed — till, at Oppression's call,
Bold legions thronged, their brethren to enthrall;
Then from each cliff the cry to battle rang,
Then from each hill to arms the patriot sprang;
Then shouts and shrieks rolled mingling to the sky,
As wronged and wrongers met, and met to die.

I looked again — the avenging deed was done;
Freedom's undaunted host the fight had won;
War's withering demon stayed his bloody hand,
And one glad anthem shook the ransomed land.

Behold the vision's bright fulfilment here!
This is the clime to Faith and Valor dear;
Among these hills the red man's arrow flew,
Along these shores he steered his light canoe;
These are the vales the exiled Christian trod,
Here rose his altar to the living God;
'T was here, for you, his blood the patriot gave;
Here Freedom found a home, and Freedom's foes a grave.

Here, too, as bland Refinement marked the age,
Immortal Genius spoke, and reared the Stage.
See, where, to work their master's high behest,
His vassals throng, and thrill the human breast; —
Love, cherub watcher of the murmuring shade;
Dark, scowling Hate; Ambition, with his blade;
Envy, coarse churl; Joy, chanting to the gale;
Pale Horror, quaking at his own wild tale;
Hope, that in every cloud a rainbow sees,
And coward Fear, that starts at every breeze;
Ruthless Revenge; Remorse, with smothered sigh;
Anger uncurbed, and Grief, with streaming eye; —
All, all bring offerings at their lord's command,
To cheer, and charm, and humanize the land.

O, ne'er this place while youth and beauty tread,
May Shame demand one sacred tear they shed;
Scorn track the footpath of each traitor here,
Who dares defile what Genius dared to rear.
Their kindred powers let Wit and Mirth unite,
To wake and warm the hearts they would delight.
Thus shall the good and wise approve the strain,
And all the graces bless the Drama's reign.





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