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WHO shall awake the Spartan fife,
And call in solemn sounds to life,
The youths, whose locks divinely spreading,
Like vernal hyacinths in sullen hue,
At once the breath of fear and virtue shedding,
Applauding Freedom lov'd of old to view ?
What new Alceus, fancy-blest,
Shall sing the sword, in myrtles drest,
At Wisdom's shrine awhile its flame concealing,
(What place so fit to seal a deed renown'd?)
Till she her brightest lightnings round revealing, It leap'd in glory forth, and dealt her prompted wound!
O goddess, in that feeling hour,
When most its sounds would court thy ears,
Let not my shell's misguided power
F'er draw thy sad, thy mindful tears.
No, Freedom, no, I will not tell,
How Rome, before thy face,
With heaviest sound, a giant-statue, fell,
Push'd by a wild and artless race,
From off its wide ambitious base,
When Time his northern sons of spoil awoke,
And all the blended work of strength and grace
With many a rude repeated stroke,
And many a barbarous yell, to thousand fragments
Yet, e'en where'er the least appear'd
Th' admiring world thy hand rever'd;
Still, 'midst the scatter'd states around,
Some remnants of her strength were found;
They saw, by what escap'd the storm,
How wondrous rose her perfect form;
How in the great, the labour'd whole,
Each mighty master pour'd his soul;
For sunny Florence, seat of Art,
Beneath her vines preserv'd a part,
Till they, whom Science lov'd to name,
(O, who could fear it!) quench'd her flame.
And, lo, an humbler relic laid
In jealous Pisa's olive shade!
See small Marino joins the theme,
Though least, not last in thy esteem;
Strike, louder strike th' ennobling strings
To those, whose merchants sons were kings;
To him, who, deck'd with pearly pride,
In Adria weds his green-hair'd bride :
Hail, port of glory, wealth, and pleasure,
Ne'er let me change this Lydian measure :
Nor e'er her former pride relate
ia's bleeding state.
Ah, no! more pleas'd thy haunts I seek,
On wild Helvetia's mountains bleak:
(Where, when the favour'd of thy choice,
The daring archer heard thy voice;
Forth from his eyrie rous'd in dread,
The ravening eagle northward fled.)
Or dwell in willow'd meads more near,
With those to whom the stork is dear:
Those whom the rod of Alva bruis'd,
Whose crown a British queen refus'd!
The magic works, thou feel'st the strains,
One holier name alone remains ;
The perfect spell shall then avail,
Hail, nymph, ador'd by Britain, hail!
Beyond the measure vast of thought,
The works, the wizard Time has wrought!
The Gaul, 't is held of antique story,
Saw Britain link'd to his now adverse strand †,
No sea between, nor cliff sublime and hoary,
He pass'd with unwet feet through all our land.
To the blown Baltic then, they say,
The wild waves found another way,
*The Dutch, amongst whom there are very severe penalties for those who are convicted of killing this bird. They are kept tame in almost all their towns, and particularly at the Hague, of the arms of which they make a part. The common people of Holland are said to entertain a superstitious sentiment, that if the whole species of them should become extinct, they should lose their liberties.
This tradition is mentioned by several of our old historians. Some naturalists, too, have endeavoured to support the probability of the fact, by arguments drawn from the correspondent disposition of the two opposite coasts. I do not remember that any poetical use has been hitherto made of it.
Where Orcas howls, his wolfish mountains rounding;
Till all the banded west at once 'gan rise,
A wide wild storm e'en Nature's self confounding,
Withering her giant sons with strange uncouth
This pillar'd earth so firm and wide,
By winds and inward labours torn, In thunders dread was push'd aside,
And down the shouldering billows borne. see, like gems, her laughing train, The little isles on every side,
Mona *, once hid from those who search the main, Where thousand elfin shapes abide,
And Wight, who checks the westering tide,
For thee consenting Heaven has each bestow'd, A fair attendant on her sovereign pride:
To thee this blest divorce she ow'd,
For thou hast made her vales thy lov'd, thy last abode!
* There is a tradition in the Isle of Man, that a mermaid, becoming enamoured of a young man of extraordinary beauty, took an opportunity of meeting him one day as he walked on the shore, and opened her passion to him, but was received with a coldness, occasioned by his horrour and surprise at her appearance. This, however, was so misconstrued by the sea-lady, that, in revenge for his treatment of her, she punished the whole island, by covering it with a mist, so that all who attempted to carry on any commerce with it, either never arrived at it, but wandered up and down the sea, or were on a sudden wrecked upon its cliffs.
Then too, 't is said, an hoary pile,
'Midst the green navel of our isle,
Thy shrine in some religious wood,
O soul-enforcing goddess, stood!
There oft the painted native's feet
Were wont thy form celestial meet:
Though now with hopeless toil we trace
Time's backward rolls, to find its place;
Whether the fiery-tressed Dane,
Or Roman's self o'erturn'd the fane,
Or in what heaven-left age fell,
'T were hard for modern song to tell.
Yet still, if truth those beams infuse,
Which guide at once, and charm the Muse,
Beyond yon braided clouds that lie,
Paving the light embroider'd sky :
Amidst the bright pavilion'd plains,
The beauteous model still remains,
There happier than in islands blest,
Or bowers by Spring or Hebe drest,
The chiefs who fill our Albion's story,
In warlike weeds, retir'd in glory,
Hear their consorted Druids sing
Their triumphs to th' immortal string.
How may the poet now unfold,
What never tongue or numbers told?
How learn delighted, and amaz'd,
What hands unknown that fabric rais'd?
E'en now, before his favour'd eyes,
In Gothic pride it seems to rise!