Joel Barlow Poems >>
Vision Of Columbus - Book 4
In one dark age, beneath a single hand,
Thus rose an empire in the savage land.
Her golden seats, with following years, increase,
Her growing nations spread the walks of peace,
Her sacred rites display the purest plan,
That e'er adorn'd the unguided mind of man.
Yet all the pomp, the extended climes unfold,
The fields of verdure and the towers of gold,
Those works of peace, and sovereign scenes of state,
In short-lived glory, hasten to their fate.
Thy followers, rushing like an angry flood,
Shall whelm the fields and stain the shrines in blood;
Nor thou, Las Casas, best of men, shalt stay
The ravening legions from their guardless prey.
Oh! hapless prelate, hero, saint and sage,
Doom'd with hard guilt a fruitless war to wage,
To see, with grief (thy life of virtues run)
A realm unpeopled and a world undone.
While impious Valverde, mock of priesthood, stands,
Guilt in his heart, the gospel in his hands,
Bids, in one field, unnumber'd squadrons bleed,
Smiles o'er the scene and sanctifies the deed.
And thou, brave Gasca, with thy virtuous train,
Shalt lift the sword and urge thy power in vain;
Vain, the late task, the sinking land to save,
Or call her slaughter'd millions from the grave.
The Seraph spoke. Columbus, with a sigh,
Cast o'er the hapless climes his moisten'd eye,
And thus return'd: Oh, hide me in the tomb;
Why should I live to view the impending doom?
If such dread scenes the scheme of heaven compose,
And virtuous toils induce redoubled woes,
Unfold no more; but grant a kind release,
Give me, 'tis all I ask, to rest in peace.
Thy soul shall rest in peace, the Power rejoin'd,
Ere these conflicting shades involve mankind:
But nobler views shall first thy mind engage,
Beyond the bounds of this destructive age;
Where happier fruits of thy unwearied toil,
Thro' future years, and other empires, smile.
Europe's contending realms shall soon behold
These fruitful plains and hills of opening gold,
Fair in the path of thy adventurous fail,
Their countless navies float in every gale,
For wealth and commerce, sweep the extended shore,
And load the ocean with the shining ore.
As, up the orient heaven, the dawning ray
Smiles o'er the world and gives the promised day;
Drives fraud and rapine from their nightly spoil,
And social nature wakes to peaceful toil;
So, from the blazing mine, the golden store,
Mid warring nations, spreads from shore to shore,
With new ambition fires their ravish'd eyes,
O'er factious nobles bids the monarch rise;
Unites the force of realms, the wealth to share,
Leads larger hosts to milder walks of war;
The golden scale, while rival states suspend,
And princely powers their mutual aid extend;
Wide o'er the world, while genius unconfined
Tempts happier flights and opens all the mind;
Unbinds the slavish bands of monkish lore,
Awakes the arts and bids the Muses soar.
Then shall thy northern climes their charms display;
United nations there extend their sway;
O'er the new world exalt their peerless throne,
And twine thy wreaths immortal on their crown.
Now lift thine eye. O'er Europe's circling rounds,
Where kings contending claim their bordering bounds,
Behold in light, the nations slowly rise,
Like trembling vapours in the morning skies.
Where those long shores their different courses run,
Round the dim north, and tow'rd the eastern sun;
The naked harbours, looking to the main,
Unfold their bounds and break the winds in vain;
The labouring ride no foreign treasure brings,
No floating forest waves its canvass wings,
No busy throngs the lonely margin tread,
Nor sails nor cities cast a watery shade:
Save, where, yon opening gulph the strand divides,
Proud Venice bathes her in the broken tides,
Beholds her scattering barks around her strown,
And, sovereign, deems the watery world her own.
The nations fierce, that local faiths enrage,
In causeless strife perpetual combat wage.
No martial system claims the monarch's care,
Nor standing legions guard the realm from war;
Give general laws to nations, and restrain
The untemper'd rage of passion's lawless reign.
But the firm bondage of the slavish mind,
Spreads deeper glooms and subjugates mankind.
As the dark northern tribes, in elder times,
Drove every art from Europe's cultured climes,
O'er ruin'd Latium fix'd their savage reign,
Mid towers o'erturn'd and learned millions slain;
Thus, o'er the same fair seats, with deadlier shade,
Folly and zeal their sable ensigns spread,
Send their cowl'd teachers every sect to blind,
Stretch the deep mantle and secure the mind,
Warn from the world, by Gallileo's fate,
Each daring truth that boasts a modern date,
Support all crimes, by full indulgence given,
Usurp the power and wield the sword of Heaven.
But see, where future years their scenes unroll,
And rising arts inspire the venturous soul.
Behold, from all the extended coasts of Spain,
Unnumber'd navies croud the whitening main;
High o'er the western wave, in cloudly flight,
They stream and lessen on the varying sight,
Dim thro' the isles and middle regions pour,
Furl the low sails, and skirt the masted shore.
From the long strand the moving loads behold,
The sparkling gems, and heaps of burning gold.
The sails ascend; and, tow'rd their native day,
With heavier burdens win their arduous way.
Now, from all coasts, that Europe's realms surround,
See the long squadrons o'er the billows bound;
Thro' Afric's isles, observe the sweeping sails,
Full pinions tossing in Arabian gales;
Indus and Ganges, deep in canvass, lost,
And navies crouding round each orient coast;
New nations rise to light, extend the toil,
Unfold their treasures, share the foreign spoil,
Join distant worlds, all climes and oceans brave,
And shade with sheets the immeasurable wave.
While rival realms in greater works engage,
And wake the genius of a happier age;
Their bounds enlarge, and mutual safety share,
By leagues of peace and standing strength of war.
See lofty Ximines, with solemn gait,
Move from the cloister to the walks of state,
Thro' all the extended baronies of Spain,
Curb the fierce lords, and fix the royal reign.
Behold, dread Charles the sovereign seat ascends,
O'er kings and climes his eager view extends;
Europe's surrounding states, before his eyes,
Lure the wide wish and bid his claims arise;
While wealthier shores, beneath the western day,
Unfold their treasures and enlarge his sway.
See the brave Francis lift his banners round,
To guard the realms and give his rival bound;
With equal pomp, the imperial sceptre claim,
And fire the nations with an equal name,
Unite his kingdom and his power extend,
Of arms the patron, and of arts the friend.
And see proud Wolsey rise, securely great,
Kings in his train, and sceptres at his feet,
From monkish walls, the hoards of wealth he draws,
To aid the tyrant and restrain the laws,
Wakes Albion's genius, abler monarchs braves,
And shares with them the empire of the waves.
Behold dark Solyman, from eastern skies,
With his grim host, magnificently rise:
Extend his limits o'er the midland sea,
And tow'rd Germania drive his conquering way,
Frown o'er the Christian Powers, with haughty air,
And teach the nations how to lead the war.
There powerful Leo rises into sight,
And, generous, calls the finer arts to light;
New walls and structures throng the Latian shore
The Pencil triumphs and the Muses soar.
Snatch'd from the ground, where Gothic rage had trod,
And monks and prelates held their drear abode,
The Roman statues rise; and wake to view
The same bold taste their ancient glory knew.
O'er the dark world Erasmus casts his eye;
In schoolmen's lore sees kings and nations lie;
With strength of judgement and with fancy warm,
Derides their follies, and dissolves the charm,
Draws the deep veil, that bigot zeal has thrown
O'er pagan Books, and science long unknown,
From faith of pageant rites relieves mankind,
And seats bold virtue in the conscious mind.
But still the daring task, to brave alone
The rising vengeance of the Papal throne,
Restrains his toil: he gives the contest o'er,
And leaves his hardier sons to dare the threatening Power.
Thus taught the Seer; Columbus turn'd his view,
Where round the regions other wonders drew;
Saw in the north a daring sage ascend,
And o'er his form a sable robe depend;
The Cowl conceal'd his eye; his fearless head,
Like morning mist, a hovering cloud o'erspread;
Above the gloom, descending lustre beams,
And streaks the concave with cerulean streams.
Sudden the bursting cloud expands in light,
And heaven unfolding fills his raptured sight.
His changing robes in golden Splendor blaze,
Around his head a starry rainbow plays;
High in his hand a beam of glory burns,
And realms surrounding brighten as it turns.
When thus the Power; These happier visions trace
The destined joys that wait the rising race.
Great Luther moves in that majestic frame,
Fair light of heaven, and child of deathless fame;
Born, like thyself, thro' toils and griefs to wind,
From sloth and slavery free the captive mind,
Brave adverse Powers, controul the Papal sway,
And bring benighted nations into day.
The beam of glory, lifted in his hand,
Is Heaven's own word that shines on every land;
By his bold pen, in modern style display'd,
From the glad world, it drives the mystic shade.
See the long crouds, his fame around him brings,
Schools, synods, prelates, potentates and kings;
All gaining knowledge from his boundless store,
And join'd to shield him from the rage of power.
First of the train, see Frederic's princely form
Ward from the sage divine the gathering storm;
In learned Wittemburgh secure his seat,
Where arts and virtues find a blest retreat.
Raised by his voice, glad pupils round him stand,
Assist his toils and spread to every land.
There moves Melanchton, mild as morning light,
And rage and strife are soften'd in his sight;
In terms so gentle flows his tuneful tongue,
Ev'n cloister'd bigots join the listening throng;
By foes and infidels he lives approved,
By monarchs courted and by heaven beloved.
With stern deport, o'er all the circling band,
See Osiander lift his waving hand;
On others' faults he casts a haughty frown,
Nor their's will pardon nor perceive his own;
A heart sincere his open looks unfold,
In virtue faithful, and in action bold.
And lo, where Europe's utmost limits bend,
From this mild source what various joys descend!
A larger policy pervades the whole,
And civil rights inspire the free-born soul.
See haughty Henry, from the Papal tie,
His realms dismember, and the Power defy;
While Albion's sons disdain a foreign throne,
And bravely bound the oppression of his own.
Another scene still marks the important age,
And hardier toils adventurous throngs engage.
There starts fierce Loyola, an unknown name,
By paths unseen to reach the goal of fame;
Thro' courts and camps, by secret skill, to wind;
To mine whole states and over-reach mankind.
The task begins; behold an artful race,
Range thro' the world, and every sect embrace,
Their creeds, their powers, their policies explore,
And lead an intercourse from shore to shore.
See the full throngs, in every distant land,
Embrace the cause and swell the wide command:
In towering pride, ascending to the skies,
Their growing fanes and seats of science rise;
A new-form'd empire gains a sudden birth,
Built in all empires o'er the peopled earth.
Led, by thy followers, to the western day,
In happier climes, behold their sovereign sway,
Where Paraguay's mild nations smile in peace,
And generous arts and social joys increase.
Thus all the tribes of men, beneath thy view,
Enlarge their walks and nobler toils pursue,
Unwonted deeds, in rival greatness, shine,
Call'd into life and first inspired by thine.
So, while imperial Homer tunes the lyre,
The living lays unnumber'd bards inspire,
From realm to realm, the kindling spirit flies,
Sounds thro' the earth and echoes to the skies.
Now move, in rapid haste, the years of time,
When, borne afar from this enlighten'd clime,
Thy brighter sons shall croud the western main,
And northern empires bloom beneath their reign.
To speed their course, the leaders of the age,
By error darkened and religious rage,
Bid Persecution whelm in kindred blood,
The walls of peace, and temples of their God:
Millions of martyr'd heroes mount the pyre,
And blind devotion lights the sacred fire.
Led by the dark inquisitors of Spain,
See Desolation mark her dreary reign;
See Jews and Moors, that croud the fatal strand,
Roll in the flames, or flee the hated land.
See, arm'd with power, the same tribunal rise,
Where hapless Belgia's fruitful circuit lies;
What wreaths of smoke roll heavy round the shore!
What shrines and altars flow with christian gore!
What dismal shrieks! what agonizing cries!
What prayers are wafted to the listening skies!
Where the flames open, lo! their arms, in vain,
Reach out for help, distorted with the pain!
Till, folded in the sires, they disappear,
And not a sound invades the startled ear.
See Philip, throned in insolence and pride,
Enjoy their wailings and their pangs deride;
While, scattering death round Albion's crimson isles,
O'er the same scenes, his cruel consort smiles.
Amid the strife, a like destruction reigns,
With wider sweep, o'er Gallia's fatal plains;
See factious nobles pour the slaughtering tide,
Grim death unites whom sacred creeds divide;
Each dreadful victor bids the flames arise,
And waft a thousand murders to the skies.
Now cease the factions, with the Valoise line,
And the great Bourbon's liberal virtues shine;
Quell'd by his voice, the furious sects accord,
And distant empires tremble at his sword.
See, smiling Albion views, with glad surprise.
A rival reign, in blest Eliza, rise;
O'er Belgia's plains while daring leaders soar,
And brave the vengeance of the Iberian power.
Now from all coasts, where shaded plains extend,
See the bent forests to the main descend.
From Albion's strand, behold the navies heave,
Stretch in a line and thunder o'er the wave;
There toils brave Russel, master of the main,
And moves in triumph o'er the pride of Spain.
The Seraph spoke; when fair beneath their eye,
A new-form'd squadron rose along the sky;
High on the tallest deck, majestic shone
Great Raleigh, pointing tow'rd the western sun;
His eye, bent forward, ardent and sublime,
Seem'd piercing nature and evolving time;
Beside him stood a globe, whose figures traced
A future empire in each wilder'd waste;
All former works of men behind him shone,
Graved by his hand in ever-during stone;
On his mild brow, a various crown displays
The hero's laurel and the scholar's bays;
His graceful limbs in steely mail were drest,
The bright star burning on his manly breast;
His sword high-beaming, like a waving spire,
Illumed the shrouds and flash'd the solar fire;
The smiling crew rose resolute and brave,
And the glad sails hung bounding o'er the wave.
Far on the main, they held their rapid flight,
And western coasts salute their longing sight:
Glad Chesapeake unfolds a passage wide,
And leads their streamers up the freshening tide;
Where a mild region and delightful soil
And groves and streams allure the steps of toil.
Here, lodged in peace, they tread the welcome land,
An instant harvest waves beneath their hand,
Spontaneous fruits their easy cares beguile,
And opening fields in living culture smile.
With joy Columbus view'd; when thus his voice,
Ye beauteous shores, and generous hosts, rejoice.
Here stretch the water'd plains and midland tide,
And nature blooms in all her virgin pride;
The years advance, by Heaven's blest arm unroll'd,
When the deep wilds their promised change behold.
Be thou, my Seer, the people's guardian friend,
Protect their virtues and their lives defend;
May wealth and grandeur, with their arts, unfold,
Yet save, oh, save them from the thirst of gold.
May the poor natives, round the guardless climes,
Ne'er feel their rage nor groan beneath their crimes;
But learn the various blessings, that extend,
Where civil rights and social virtues blend;
In these brave leaders find a welcome guide,
And rear their fanes and empires by their side.
Smile, happy region, smile; the star of morn
Illumes thy heavens, and bids thy day be born;
Thy opening forests show the work begun,
Thy plains, unshaded, drink a purer-sun;
Unwonted navies on thy currents glide,
And happier treasures waft on every tide;
Yield now thy bounties, load the distant main;
Give birth to nations and begin thy reign.
The hero spoke; when thus the Power rejoin'd,
Approved his joy, and still enlarged his mind:
To thy warm wish, beneath these opening skies,
The pride of earth-born empires soon shall rise.
My powerful arm, to which the task was given,
On this fair globe to work the will of Heaven;
To rear the mountain, spread the subject plain,
Lead the long stream and roll the billowy main,
In every clime prepared the seats of state,
Design'd their limits and prescribed their date.
To meet these tides, I stretch'd the level strand,
Heaved the green banks and taught the groves to stand,
Strow'd the wild fruitage, gave the beasts their place,
And form'd the region for thy kindred race.
In elder years, when first the watery round,
And meeting lands their blending borders found;
Back to those distant hills, that range sublime,
From yon deep gulph, thro' all the northern clime,
The Atlantic wave it's coral kingdoms spread,
And scaly nations here their gambols led.
By slow degrees, thro' following years of time,
I bared these realms and raised the extended clime;
As, from retiring seas, the rising sand
Stole into light and gently drew to land.
Moved by the winds, that sweep the flaming zone,
The waves roll westward with the constant sun,
Meet the firm Isthmus, scoop that gulphy bed,
Wheel tow'rd the north, and here their currents spread:
Those ravaged banks, that move beneath their force,
Borne on the tide and lost along the course,
Have form'd this beauteous shore by Heaven design'd,
The happiest empire that awaits mankind.
Think not the lust of gold shall here annoy,
Enslave the nations and the race destroy.
No flaming mine these lengthening hills enclose,
No ruby ripens and no diamond glows;
But richer stores and rocks of useful mould,
Repay, in wealth, the penury of gold.
Freedom's unconquer'd sons, with healthy toil,
Shall lop the grove and warm the furrow'd soil,
From iron ridges break the rugged ore,
Smooth the pale marble, spire the bending shore;
While sails and towers and temples round them heave,
Shine o'er the realms and shade the distant wave.
Nor think the native tribes, these wilds that trace,
A foe shall find in this exalted race;
In souls like theirs, no mean, ungenerous aim
Can shade their glories with the deeds of shame;
Nor low deceit, weak mortals to ensnare,
Nor bigot zeal to urge the barbarous war;
Nor haughty pomp of power, nor Spanish pride,
To ravage realms and nature's laws deride.
From eastern tyrants driven, and nobly brave,
To build new states, or seek a distant grave,
Thy generous sons, with proffer'd leagues of peace,
Approach these climes, and hail the savage race;
Pay the just purchase for the uncultured shore,
Diffuse their arts and share the friendly power;
While the dark tribes in social aid combine,
Exchange their treasures and their joys refine.
O'er Europe's wilds, when first the nations spread,
The pride of conquest every legion led.
Each powerful chief, by servile crouds adored,
O'er conquer'd realms assumed the name of lord,
Built the proud castle, ranged the savage wood,
Fired his grim host to frequent fields of blood,
With new-made honours lured his subject bands,
Price of their lives, and purchase of their lands;
For names and titles, bade the world resign
Their faith, their freedom and their rights divine.
Thus haughty baronies their terrors spread,
And slavery follow'd where the standard led;
Till, little tyrants by the great o'erthrown,
Contending nobles give the regal crown;
Wealth, wisdom, virtue, every claim of man
Unguarded fall to form the finish'd plan:
Ambitious cares, that nature never gave,
Warm the starved peasant, fire the sceptred slave;
Thro' all degrees, in gradual pomp, ascend,
Honour, the name, and tyranny, the end.
But nobler honours here the breast inflame;
Sublimer views and deeds of happier fame;
A new creation waits the western shore,
And reason triumphs o'er the pride of power.
As the glad coast, by Heaven's supreme command,
Won from the wave, presents a new-form'd land;
Yields richer fruits and spreads a kinder soil,
And pays with greater stores the hand of toil;
So, call'd from slavish climes, a bolder race,
With statelier step, these fair abodes shall trace;
Their freeborn souls, with genius unconfined,
Nor sloth can poison, nor a tyrant bind;
With self-wrought fame and worth internal blest,
No venal star shall brighten on the breast;
No king-created name or courtly art
Damp the bold thought, or sway the changing heart.
Above all fraud, beyond all titles great,
Heaven in their soul and sceptres at their feet,
The sires of unborn nations move sublime,
Look empires thro' and pierce the veil of time,
The fair foundations form, and lead afar
The palm of peace or scourge of barbarous war.
Their following sons the godlike toil behold,
In freedom's cause, unconquerably bold,
Complete the toils, display their glories round,
Domestic states and distant empires bound,
Brave the dread powers, that eastern monarchs boast,
Explore all climes, enlighten every coast;
Till arts and laws, in one great system bind,
By leagues of peace, the labours of mankind.
But slow proceeds the plan. Long toils remain,
Ere thy blest children can begin their reign.
That daring leader, whose exalted soul
Pervades all scenes that unborn realms unroll,
Must yield the palm; and, at a courtier's shrine,
His fame, his freedom and his life resign.
That feeble train, the lonely wilds who tread,
Their sire, their genius in their Raleigh dead,
Shall pine and perish in the frowning gloom,
Or mount the wave and seek their ancient home.
Succeeding hosts the daring task pursue,
The dangers brave and all the strife renew;
But vain the toil; while void of wealth and power,
Their fleets to furnish and their claims secure;
While kings and courtiers still neglect the plan,
The slaves of ease and enemies of man.
Till noble Del'ware, with his venturous train,
In strength and fortune, hails the fair domain,
Divides his bounties, aids the patriot cause,
Begins the culture and designs their laws.
Fired with the great success the aspiring age
Sees greater throngs the glorious toil engage.
Where the long strand unnumber'd streams divide,
Their rival heroes lead their naval pride,
Back from the ports extend a peaceful sway,
And spread their hamlets tow'rd the setting day.
From yon low shore, where Texel meets the main.
See the tost navies bear a venturous train;
See, scourged by bigot rage from Albion's coast,
The noble Baltimore collect his host,
In quest of freedom seek a happier land,
And shield and cherish his illustrious band;
While heaven-taught Penn sublimely towers along,
And ardent crouds beneath his standard throng;
See, by his side, a future city plann'd,
A code of statutes folded in his hand;
Progressive years and ages, as they rise,
Unroll their scenes and open to his eyes.
See, from grim Laud, a persecuted band
Mount the bold bark and flee the fatal strand;
Virtue's unconquer'd, venerable train,
Whom tyrants press and waves oppose in vain;
While faith and freedom spread a nobler charm,
And toils and dangers every bosom warm.
See other hosts and chiefs, in bright array,
Full pinions crouding on the watery way;
All from their different shores, their sails unfurl'd,
Point their glad streamers to the western world.
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