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ODE TO LEVEN-WATER
ON Leven's banks, while free to rove,
And tune the rural pipe to love;
I envied not the happiest swain
That ever trod the Arcadian plain.
Pure stream! in whose transparent wave
My youthful limbs I wont to lave;
No torrents stain thy limpid source;
No rocks impede thy dimpling course,
That sweetly warbles o'er its bed,
With white, round, polish'd pebbles spread ;
While, lightly pois'd, the scaly brood
In myriads cleave thy crystal flood;
The springing trout in speckled pride;
The salmon, monarch of the tide;
'The ruthless pike, intent on war;
The silver eel, and mottled par. *
Devolving from thy parent lake,
A charming maze thy waters make,
By bowers of birch, and groves of pine,
And hedges flower'd with eglantine.
Still on thy banks so gaily green,
May num'rous herds and flocks be seen,
And lasses chanting o'er the pail,
And shepherds piping in the dale,
And ancient Faith that knows no guile,
And Industry imbrown'd with toil,
And hearts resolv'd, and hands prepar'd,
The blessings they enjoy to guard.
* The par is a small fish, not unlike the smelt, which it rivals in delicacy and flavour.
THY spirit, Independence, let me share!
Lord of the lion-heart and eagle-eye,
Thy steps I follow with my bosom bare,
Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky.
Deep in the frozen regions of the north,
A goddess violated brought thee forth,
Immortal Liberty, whose look sublime
Hath bleach'd the tyrant's cheek in every varying
What time the iron-hearted Gaul
With frantic Superstition for his guide,
Arm'd with the dagger and the pall,
The sons of Woden to the field defy'd:
The ruthless hag, by Weser's flood,
In Heaven's name urg'd th' infernal blow;
And red the stream began to flow :
The vanquish'd were baptiz'd with blood.
The Saxon prince in horrour fled
From altars stain'd with human gore;
And Liberty his routed legions led
In safety to the bleak Norwegian shore.
There in a cave asleep she lay,
Lull'd by the hoarse-resounding main;
When a bold savage past that way,
Impell'd by Destiny, his name Disdain.
Of ample front the portly chief appear'd:
The hunted bear supply'd a shaggy vest;
The drifted snow hung on his yellow beard;
And his broad shoulders brav'd the furious blast.
He stopt: he gaz'd; his bosom glow'd,
And deeply felt the impression of her charms:
He seiz'd the advantage Fate allow'd;
And straight compress'd her in his vig'rous arms.
The curlieu scream'd, the Tritons blew
Their shells to celebrate the ravish'd rite;
Old Time exulted as he flew ;
And Independence saw the light.
The light he saw in Albion's happy plains,
Where under cover of a flowering thorn,
While Philomel renew'd her warbled strains,
The auspicious fruit of stol'n embrace was born
The mountain Dryads seiz'd with joy,
The smiling infant to their charge consign'd;
The Doric Muse caress'd the favourite boy;
The hermit Wisdom stor'd his opening mind.
As rolling years matur'd his age,
He flourish'd bold and sinewy as his sire;
While the mild passions in his breast assuage
The fiercer flames of his maternal sire.
Accomplished thus, he wing'd his way,
And zealous roved from pole to pole,
The rolls of right eternal to display,
And warm with patriot thoughts the aspiring soul.
On desert isles it was he that rais'd
Those spires that gild the Adriatic wave,
Where Tyranny beheld amaz'd
Fair Freedom's temple, where he mark'd her grave.
He steel'd the blunt Batavian's arms
To burst the Iberian's double chain;
And cities rear'd, and planted farms,
Won from the skirts of Neptune's wide domain.
He, with the generous rustics, sate
On Uri's rocks in close divan * ;
And wing'd that arrow sure as fate,
Which ascertain'd the sacred rights of man.
Arabia's scorching sands he cross'd,
Where blasted nature pants supine,
Conductor of her tribes adust,
To Freedom's adamantine shrine;
And many a Tartar hord forlorn, aghast!
He snatch'd from under fell Oppression's wing;
And taught amidst the dreary waste
The all-cheering hymns of Liberty to sing.
He virtue finds, like precious ore,
Diffus'd thro' every baser mould,
Even now he stands on Calvi's rocky shore,
And turns the dross of Corsica to gold.
He, guardian genius, taught my youth
Pomp's tinsel livery to despise :
My lips by him chastis'd to truth,
Ne'er pay'd that homage which the heart denies.
Alluding to the known story of William Tell and his associates, the fathers and founders of the confederacy of the Swiss Cantons.
Those sculptur'd halls my feet shall never tread,
Where varnish'd Vice and Vanity combin'd,
To dazzle and seduce, their banners spread;
And forge vile shackles for the free-born mind.
Where Insolence his wrinkl'd front uprears,
And all the flowers of spurious fancy blow;
And Title his ill-woven chaplet wears,
Full often wreath'd around the miscreant's brow:
Where ever-dimpling Falsehood, pert and vain,
Presents her cup of stale profession's froth;
And pale Disease, with all his bloated train,
Torments the sons of Gluttony and Sloth.
In Fortune's car behold that minion ride,
With either India's glittering spoils opprest:
So moves the sumpter-mule, in harness'd pride,
That bears the treasure which he cannot taste.
For him let venal bards disgrace the bay,
And hireling minstrels wake the tinkling string;
Her sensual snares let faithless Pleasure lay;
And all her jingling bells fantastic Folly ring;
Disquiet, Doubt, and Dread shall intervene ;
And Nature, still to all her feelings just,
In vengeance hang a damp on every scene,
Shook from the baleful pinions of Disgust.
Nature I'll court in her sequester'd haunts
By mountain, meadow, streamlet, grove, or cell,
Where the poised lark his evening ditty chaunts,
And Health, and Peace, and Contemplation dwell.