« PreviousContinue »
'Tis liberty alone that gives the flower
Of fleeting life its lustre and perfume ;
And we are weeds without it. All constraint,
Except what wisdom lays on evil men,
Is evil; hurts the faculties, impedes
Their progress in the road of science, blinds
The eyesight of discovery, and begets
In those that suffer it a sordid mind,
Bestial, a meagre intellect, unfit
To be the tenant of man's noble form.
The Bard's Song of freedom. Loud into pomp sonorous swell the chords ! Like linked legions march the melodies ! Till the full rapture swept the Bard along, And o'er the listeners rush'd the stream of song ! And the Dead spoke! From cairns and kingly graves,
The Heroes callid ;-and saints from earliest shrines. And the Land spoke! Mellifluous river-waves ;
Dim forests awful with the roar of pines ; Mysterious caves from legend-haunted deeps; And torrents flashing from untrodden steeps ; The Land of Freedom called upon the Free!
All Nature spoke; the clarions of the wind ;
The organ-swell of the majestic sea ;
The choral stars; the Universal Mind
Spoke, like the voice from which the world began,
"No chain for Nature and the Soul of Man!”
As leaps the war-fire on the beacon hills,
Leapt in each heart the lofty flame divine ;
As into sunlight flash the molten rills,
Flash'd the glad claymores, lightening line on line ;
From cloud to cloud, as slumber speeds along,
From rank to rank rush'd forth the choral song.
Woman and child-all caught the fire of men ;
To its own Heaven that Hallelujah rang ;
Life to the spectres had return'd again,
And from the grave an armed nation sprang.
E. B. LYTTON.
ETERNAL spirit of the chainless Mind !
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty ! thou art,
For there thy habitation is the heart-
The heart, which love of thee alone can bind;
And when thy sons to fetters are consign'd-
To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom,
Their country conquers with their martyrdom,
And Freedom's fame finds wings on every wind.
Chillon ! thy prison is a holy place,
And thy sad floor an altar—for 'twas trod,
Until his very steps have left a trace
Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod,
By Bonnivard !-May none those marks efface !
For they appeal from tyranny to God.
The Antiquity of Freedom. HERE are old trees, tall oaks and gnarled pines, That stream with gray-green mosses; here the ground Was never trench'd by spade, and flowers spring up Upsown, and die ungather'd. It is sweet To linger here, among the flitting birds And leaping squirrels, wandering brooks, and winds That shake the leaves, and scatter, as they pass, A fragrance from the cedars, thickly set With pale blue berries. In these peaceful shadesPeaceful, unpruned, immeasurably oldMy thoughts go up the long dim path of years, Back to the earliest days of liberty. Oh FREEDOM! thou art not, as poets dream, A fair young girl, with light and delicate limbs, And wavy tresses gushing from the cap With which the Roman master crown'd his slave When he took off the gyves. A bearded man, Arm'd to the teeth, art thou; one mailed hand Grasps the broad shield, and one the sword; thy brow, Glorious in beauty though it be, is scarr'd With tokens of old wars; thy massive limbs Are strong with struggling. Power at thee has launch'd His bolts, and with his lightnings smitten thee;
They could not quench the life thou hast from heaven.
Merciless power has dug thy dungeon deep,
And his swart armourers, by a thousand fires,
Have forged thy chain; yet, while he deems thee bound,
The links are shiver'd, and the prison walls
Fall outward : terribly thou springest forth,
As springs the flame above a burning pile,
And shoutest to the nations, who return
Thy shoutings, while the pale oppressor flies.
Thy birthright was not given by human hands:
Thou wert twin-born with man. In pleasant fiel Is,
While yet our race was few, thou sat'st with him,
To tend the quiet flock and watch the stars,
And teach the reed to utter simple airs.
Thou by his side amid the tangled wood,
Didst war upon the panther and the wolf,
His only foes; and thou with him didst draw
The earliest furrows on the mountain side,
Soft with the deluge. Tyranny himself,
Thy enemy, although of reverend look,
Hoary with many years, and far obey'd,
Is later born than thou; and as he meets
The grave defiance of thine elder eye,
The usurper trembles in his fastnesses.
Thou shalt wax stronger with the lapse of years, But he shall fade into a feebler age; Feebler, yet subtler. He shall weave his snares, And spring them on thy careless steps, and clap His wither'd hands, and from their ambush call His hordes to fall upon thee. He shall send Quaint maskers, wearing fair and gallant forms, To catch thy gaze, and uttering graceful words To charm thy ear; while his sly imps by stealth Twine round thee threads of steel, light thread on thread That grow to fetters; or bind down thy arms With chains conceal'd in chaplets. Oh! not yet Mayst thou unbrace thy corslet, nor lay by Thy sword; nor yet, О Freedom ! close thy lids In slumber; for thine enemy never sleeps, And thou must watch and combat till the day Of the new earth and heaven. But wouldst thou rest Awhile from tumult and the frauds of men, These old and friendly solitudes invite
Thy visit. They, while yet the forest-trees
Were young upon the anviolated earth,
And yet the moss-stains on the rock were new,
Beheld thy glorious childhood, and rejoiced.
From the " Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington."
Who is he that cometh, like an honour'd guest,
With banner and with music, with soldier and with priest,
With a nation weeping, and breaking on my rest ?
Mighty seaman, this is he
Was great by land as thou by sea.
Thine island loves thee well, thou famous man,
The greatest sailor since our world began.
Now, to the roll of muffled drums,
To thee the greatest soldier comes ;
For this is he
Was great by land as thou by sea ;
His martial wisdom kept us free;
O warrior-seaman, this is he,
This is England's greatest son,
Worthy of our gorgeous rites,
And worthy to be laid by thee;
He that gain'd a hundred fights,
And never lost an English gun;
He that in his earlier day
Against the myriads of Assaye
Clash'd with his fiery few and won :
And underneath another sun
Made the soldier, led him on,
And ever great and greater grew,
Beating from the wasted vines
All their marshals' bandit swarms
Back to France with countless blows;
Till their host of eagles flew
Past the Pyrenean pines,
Follow'd up in valley and glen
With blare of bugle, clamour of men,
Roll of cannon and clash of arms,
And England pouring on her foes.
Such a'war had such a close.
He withdrew to brief repose.
Again their ravening eagle rose
In anger, wheeld on Europe-shadowing wings,
And barking for the thrones of kings,
Till one that sought but Duty's iron crown
On that loud Sabbath shook the spoiler down ;
A day of onsets of despair!
Dash'd on every rocky square
Their surging charges foam'd themselves away ;
Last, the Prussian trumpet blew ;
Through the long-tormented air
Heaven flash'd a sudden jubilant ray,
And down we swept and charged and overthrew.
So great a soldier taught us there,
What long-enduring hearts could do
In that world's-earthquake, Waterloo !
Mighty seaman, tender and true,
And pure as he from taint of craven guile,
O saviour of the silver-coasted isle,
O shaker of the Baltic and the Nile,
If aught of things that here befall
Touch a spirit among things divine,
If love of country move thee there at all,
Be glad because his bones are laid by thine !
And through the centuries let a people's voice
In full acclaim,
A people's voice,
The proof and echo of all human fame,
A people's voice, when they rejoice
At civic revel and pomp and game,
Attest their great commander's claim,
With honour, honour, honour, honour to him,
Eternal honour to his name.
MILTON ! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee : she is a fen
Of stagnant waters : altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men,
Oh! raise us up, return to us again ;