Joel Barlow Poems >>
Vision Of Columbus - Book 6
Naval action of De Grasse and Graves. Capture of Cornwallis..
Thus view'd the sage. When, lo, in eastern skies,
From glooms unfolding, Gallia's coasts arise.
Bright o'er the scenes of state, a golden throne,
Instarr'd with gems and hung with purple, shone.
Great Louis there, the pride of monarchs, sate,
And fleets and moving armies round him wait;
O'er western shores extend his ardent eyes,
Thro' glorious toils where struggling nations rise;
Each virtuous deed, each new illustrious name,
Wakes in his soul the living light of fame.
He sees the liberal, universal cause,
That wondering worlds in still attention draws;
And marks, beyond, through western walks of day,
Where midnight suns their happier beams display,
What sires of unborn nations claim their birth,
And ask their empires in that waste of earth.
Then o'er the eastern world he turn'd his eye;
Where, sunk in slavery hapless kingdoms lie;
Saw realms exhausted to enrich a throne,
Their fruits untasted and their rights unknown:
A tear of pity spoke his melting mind-
He raised his sceptre to relieve mankind,
Eyed the great father of the Bourbon name,
Awaked his virtues and recall'd his fame.
Fired by the grandeur of the splendid throne,
Illustrious chiefs and councils round him shone;
On the glad youth with kindling joy they gaze,
The rising heir of universal praise.
Vergennes rose stately o'er the noble throng,
And fates of nations on his accents hung;
Columbia's wrongs his indignation fired,
And generous thoughts his glowing breast inspired;
To aid her infant toils his counsel moved,
In freedom founded and by Heaven approved.
While other peers, in sacred virtue bold,
With eager voice the coming scenes unfold;
Surrounding heroes wait the monarch's word,
In foreign fields to draw the glittering sword,
Prepared with joy to trace the distant main,
Mix in the strife and join the martial train;
Who now assert the rights of sovereign power,
And build new empires on the western shore.
O'er all, the approving monarch cast a look,
And listening nations trembled while he spoke.
Ye states of France, and, ye of rising name,
That work those distant miracles of fame,
Hear and attend; let Heaven the witness bear,
We lift the sword, we aid the righteous war.
Let leagues eternal bind each friendly land,
Given by our voice, and 'stablish'd by our hand;
Let yon extensive empire fix her sway,
And spread her blessings with the bounds of day.
Yet know, ye nations, hear, ye Powers above,
Our purposed aid no views of conquest move;
In that vast world, revives no ancient claim
Of regions peopled by the Gallic name;
Our envied bounds, already stretch'd afar,
Nor ask the sword, nor fear the rage of war;
But Virtue, struggling with the vengeful Power,
That stains yon fields and desolates that shore,
With nature's foes bids former compact cease;
We war reluctant, and our wish is peace;
To suffering nations be the succour given,
The cause of nations is the cause of Heaven.
He spoke; the moving armies shade the plain,
And bold D'Estaing rode bounding on the main;
O'er lands and seas, the loud applauses rung,
And War and Union dwelt on every tongue.
And now Columbus, tow'rd his favourite sky,
Saw sails and stores and chiefs and armies fly;
Thro' clouds of smoke, and stain'd with streaming blood,
Contending navies spread their wings abroad.
Europe, from all her shores, approves the sight,
And balanced empires wait the finish'd fight.
Now circling far, above the labouring main,
Rose into view the extended coasts of Spain;
He saw bold barks their warlike engines wield,
New squadrons coursing round the banner'd field;
Where Gallic streamers o'er the main advance,
The Hispanian flags in wonted union dance;
Round the deep gulph, that fair Floridia laves,
In martial pride, their conquering standard waves;
While, thro' the entrance of the midland sea,
Encountering sails and hostile banners play.
And now the level strand, extending wide,
That opes the busy Texel's loaded tide,
Rose brightening from the gloom; beneath his eye,
Famed Belgia's temples glitter to the sky.
Sudden, the assembled States new glory warms,
Their ships collect, their thousands, rush to arms,
And, roused by conquering Rodney to prepare,
In foreign seas, to meet the sweeping war;
Lift holder wings, in sign of rage, unfurl'd,
And vengeance bears them round the watery world.
Where waves and mountains skirt the northern sky,
New scenes ascending met the hero's eye.
Increasing splendors up the vault aspire,
Like boreal lights, the midnight heavens that fire;
And raise to view the Baltic's gleaming wave,
Whose opening streams surrounding cities lave.
Fair on her throne, revolving distant fate,
Imperial Katharine majestic sate;
Courts throng around her, kings and heroes stand,
Receiving swords and sceptres from her hand.
She waits the day, and bids the nations rest,
Till that new empire, rising in the west,
Shall sheathe the sword, the liberal main ascend,
And, join'd with her, the scale of power suspend;
Bid arts arise, and vengeful factions cease,
And commerce lead to universal peace.
Christiern, amid his waves, exalted high,
On the great empress cast a reverent eye;
While Sweden's prince obeys her sovereign word,
And aged Frederic half assumes his sword.
Where wide Germania's opening towers arise,
Immortal Joseph lifts his ardent eyes.
High in a golden car, he stands sublime,
Late borne disguised to every distant clime,
The powers, the policies of every throne
He mark'd, unnoticed, and by all unknown;
Now, mid his splendid court, his travels o'er,
With eyes directed tow'rd the western shore,
The monarch learns, from that illustrious train,
To share with liberal hand the bounties of his reign.
Where fair Hibernia's flowery circuit lies,
Her glad sails wave and gathering armies rise.
Leinster and Grattan there assert her claim,
And raise the realm to freedom and to fame.
Thus all the eastern world, in glad amaze,
Gaze on the scene and brighten as they gaze;
Wake to new life, assume a borrow'd name,
Enlarge the lustre and partake the fame.
So mounts of ice, that polar skies invade,
Unheeded stand beneath the evening shade;
Yet, when the morning lights their glaring throne,
Give back the day and imitate the sun.
The growing contest now, with loud alarms,
Fill'd every clime and roused the world to arms.
Where Indian borders skirt the orient skies,
To furious strife unwonted myriads rise;
Great Hyder, there, unconquerably bold,
Bids vengeance move and freedom's flag unfold;
Fires the wide realms t'assert their ancient sway;
And scourge fierce Britons from their lawless prey.
Round the rich isles that grace the Atlantic tide,
In dread array the encountering navies ride;
Where Albion's treasures yield a wealthier prize,
And o'er her walls the Gallic standards rise.
Still to fresh toils, o'er all the western shore,
Her thronging fleets their new battalions pour;
The realms unconquer'd still their terrors wield,
And stain with mingled gore the embattled field.
O'er Schuylkill's wave, to various fight they move,
And adverse nations equal slaughter prove;
Till, where dread Monmouth lifts a bloomy height,
Britannia's thousands met the Observer's sight.
There strode imperious Clinton o'er the field,
And marshall'd hosts for ready combat held.
As the dim sun, beneath the skirts of even,
Crimsons the clouds that sail the western heaven;
So, in red wavy rows, where spread the train
Of men and standards, shone the unmeasured plain,
But now the chief of heroes moved in sight,
And the long ranks roll forward to the fight;
He points the charge, the mounted thunders roar,
And plough the plain, and rock the distant shore.
Above the folds of smoke, that veil'd the war,
His guiding sword illumed the fields of air;
The vollied flames, that burst along the plain,
Break the deep clouds and show the piles of slain;
Till flight begins; the smoke is roll'd away,
And the red standards open into day.
Britons and Germans hurry from the field,
Now wrapp'd in dust, and now to sight reveal'd;
Behind, great Washington his falchion drives,
Thins the pale ranks, and copious vengeance gives.
Hosts captive bow, and move behind his arm,
And hosts before him wing the driven storm;
When the glad shore salutes their fainting sight,
And thundering navies screen their rapid flight.
Thro' plains of death, that gleam with hostile sires,
Brave Lincoln now to southern climes retires;
Where o'er her streams beleagured Charleston rose,
The hero moves to meet the assembled foes.
Shading the invaded isle, on either flood,
Red standards waved and winged batteries rode;
While, braving death his scanty host remains,
And the dread strife with various fate sustains.
High from the sable decks, the bursting fires
Sweep the full streets, and cleave the glittering spires.
Vaulted with flying flames, the burning air
Reddens with shells and pours the ethereal war;
The tented plain, where dauntless heroes tread,
Is torn with broken craggs and strow'd with dead.
Long crouds of suppliants, round the gallant chief,
Raise their wild cries and pour their frantic grief;
Each shower of flames renews their startled woe,
They wail the strife, they dread the infuriate foe
The afflicted Fair, while tears bedew their charms,
Babes at their side and infants in their arms,
With piercing shrieks his guardian hand implore,
To save them trembling from the victor's power.
He shares their anguish with a moistening eye,
And bids the balls rain thicker thro' the sky;
When a lost hero, in a neighbouring post,
Gives a lone fortress to the approaching host.
Now gathering thousands croud around the isle,
Threat wider vengeance and increase the toil;
On temper'd terms, great Lincoln yields the prize,
And plucks the standard from the saddening skies.
The conquering legions now the champaign tread,
And tow'rd the north their fire and slaughter spread;
Thro' towns and realms, where arming peasants fly,
The bold Cornwallis bears his standard high;
O'er many a field displays his dreadful force,
And thousands fall and thousands aid his course;
While thro' the conquer'd lands, from every plain,
The fresh battalions join his splendid train.
So mountain streams, o'er climes of melting snow,
Spread with encreasing waves, and whelm the world below.
The great Columbus, with an anxious sigh,
Saw British ensigns reaching round the sky,
Saw desolation whelm his favourite coast,
His children scatter'd and their vigor lost;
De Kalb in furious combat press the plain,
Morgan and Smallwood various shocks sustain;
When Greene, in lonely greatness, rose to view,
A few firm patriots to his standard drew;
And, moving stately to a rising ground,
Bade the loud trump to speedy vengeance sound;
Fired by the voice, new squadrons, from afar,
Croud to the hero and demand the war.
Round all the shores and plains he turn'd his eye;
Saw forts arise and conquering banners fly:
The saddening scene suspends his rising soul,
And fates of empires in his bosom roll.
With scanty force where should he lift the steel?
While hosting foes immeasurably wheel;
Or how behold the boundless slaughter spread?
Himself stand idle and his country bleed?
A silent moment, thus the hero stood,
And held his warriors from the field of blood;
Then points the British legions where to roll,
Marks out their progress and designs the whole.
He lures their chief, o'er yielding realms to roam,
To build his greatness and to find his doom;
With gain and grandeur feeds his sateless flame,
And leaves the victory to a nobler name;
Gives to great Washington, to meet his way,
Nor claims the glories of so bright a day.
Now to the conquer'd south with gathering force,
O'er sanguine plains he shapes his rapid course;
Forts fall around him; hosts before him fly,
And captive bands his growing train supply.
At length, far spreading thro' a fatal field,
Collecting chiefs their circling armies wheel'd;
Near Eutaw's fount, where, long renown'd for blood,
Pillars of ancient fame in triumph stood,
Britannia's squadrons, ranged in order bright,
Stand, like a fiery wall, and wait the shock of fight.
When o'er the distant hill brave Greene arose,
Eyed the far plain and view'd the glittering foes;
Disposed his squadrons, form'd each folded train,
To lead the charge, or the wide wings sustain,
Roused all their rage superior force to prove,
Waved the bright blade, and bade the onset move.
As hovering clouds, when morning beams arise,
Hang their red curtains round the eastern skies,
Unfold a space to hail the promised sun,
And catch their splendors from his rising throne;
Thus glow'd the approaching fronts, whose steely glare
Glanced o'er the hideous interval of war.
Now roll with kindling haste the rapid lines,
From wing to wing the sounding battle joins;
Batteries, and fosses wide, and ranks of fire,
In mingled shocks, their thundering blasts expire
Beneath the smoke, when firm advancing bands,
With piked arms bent forward in their hands,
In dreadful silence tread. As, wrapp'd from sight,
The nightly ambush moves to secret fight;
So rush the raging files, and sightless close,
In plunging strife, with fierce conflicting foes;
They reach, they strike, they struggle o'er the slain,
Deal heavier blows, and strow with death the plain;
Ranks crush on ranks, with equal slaughter gored,
While dripping streams, from every lifted sword,
Stain the thin carnaged hosts; who still maintain,
With mutual shocks, the vengeance of the plain.
Till, where brave Williams strove and Campbell fell,
Unwonted strokes the British force repel:
The rout begins; the shatter'd wings, afar,
Roll back in haste and scatter from the war;
They drop their arms, they scour the marshy field;
Whole squadrons fall and faint battalions yield.
O'er all the great Observer fix'd his eye,
Mark'd the whole strife, beheld them sall and fly;
He saw where Greene thro' all the combat drove,
And death and victory with his presence move;
Beneath his arm, saw Marion pour the strife,
Pickens and Sumner, prodigal of life;
He saw young Washington, the child of fame,
Preserve in fight the honours of his name;
Brave Lee, in pride of youth, and veteran might
Swept the dread field, and put whole troops to flight;
While numerous chiefs, that equal trophies raise
Wrought, not unseen, the deeds of deathless praise.
Columbus now his gallant sons beheld
In triumph move thro' many a banner'd field;
When o'er the main, from Gallia's crouded shore,
To the glad strife a host of heroes pour.
On the tall shaded decks the leaders stand,
View lessening waves and hail the approaching strand.
Brave Rochambeau, in gleamy steel array'd,
The ascending scenes with eager joy survey'd;
Saw Washington, amid his thousands, stride,
And long'd to toil and conquer by his side.
Great Chastelleux, with philosophic view,
Mark'd the glad prize that rising realms pursue;
Intent in thought, his glowing bosom warms,
To grace the walks of science and of arms.
Two brother chiefs, in rival lustre, rose,
Rear'd the long lance, and claim'd the field of foes;
The bold Viominils, of equal fame,
And eager both t'exalt the noble name.
Lauzon, beneath his sail, in armour bright
Frown'd o'er the wave, impatient for the fight;
A fiery steed beside the hero stood,
And his broad blade waved forward o'er the croud.
And now, with eager haste, they tread the coast;
Thro' grateful regions lead the veteran host;
Hail the great chief, beneath his banners join,
Demand the foe and bid the strife begin.
Again Columbus cast his anxious eye,
Where the red standard waved along the sky;
And, graced with spoils of many a field of blood,
The bold Cornwallis on a bulwark stood.
O'er conquer'd provinces and towns in flame,
He mark'd his recent monuments of fame,
High raised in air, his hands securely hold,
With conscious pride, a sheet of cypher'd gold;
There, in delusive haste, his skill had graved
A clime subdued, a flag in triumph waved:
A middle realm, by fairer figures known,
Adorn'd with fruits, lay bounded for his own;
Deep thro' the centre, spreads a beauteous bay,
Full sails ascend and golden rivers stray;
Bright palaces arise, relieved in gold,
And gates and streets the crossing lines unfold.
O'er all the mimic scene, his fingers trace.
His future seat and glory of his race.
While thus the raptured chief his conquests view'd,
And gazing thousands round the rampart stood,
Whom future ease and golden dreams employ,
The songs of triumph and the feast of joy;
Sudden, great Washington arose in view,
And union'd flags his stately steps pursue;
Blest Gallia's bands and young Columbia's pride,
Bend the long march and glitter at his side.
Now on the wave the warring fleets advance,
And different ensigns o'er their pinions dance;
From northern shores, great Albion's flag, unfurl'd,
Waved proud defiance to the watery world;
While, from the southern isles, a daring train,
With Gallic banners; shades the billowy main.
Here brave De Grasse in awful splendor, rode,
And there stern Graves a rival splendor show'd.
The approaching sails, as far as eye can sweep,
Look thro' the skies and shade the shuddering deep.
As, when the winds of heaven, from each far pole,
Their adverse storms across the concave roll,
The fleecy vapors thro' the expansion run,
Veil the blue vault and tremble o'er the sun;
Till the dark folding wings together drive,
And, ridg'd with fires, and rock'd with thunders, strive;
So, bearing thro' the void, at first appear.
White clouds of canvass, floating on the air;
Then frown the approaching fronts; the sails are laid,
And the black decks extend a dreadful shade;
While rolling flames and tides of smoke arise,
And thundering cannons rock the seas and skies.
Where the long bursting fires the cloud disclose,
Hosts heave in sight and blood the decks o'er-flows;
There, from the strife, tost navies rise to view,
Drive back to vengeance and the toil renew;
Here, shatter'd barks in squadrons move afar,
Led thro' the smoke, and struggling from the war;
While hulls half-seen, beneath a gaping wave,
And plunging heroes fill the watery grave.
Now the dark smoky volumes roll'd away,
And a long line ascended into day;
The pinions swell'd, Britannia's flag arose,
And flew the vengeance of triumphing foes.
When up the bay, Virginian lands that laves,
Great Gallia's line its conquering standard waves:
Where still dread Washington allumes the way,
And fleets and moving realms his voice obey;
While the brave Briton, mid the gathering host,
Perceives his glories and his empire lost.
The heaven-taught sage in this broad scene beheld
His favourite sons the fates of nations wield;
There joyous Lincoln shone in arms again,
Nelson and Knox moved ardent o'er the plain,
Unconquer'd Scammel, mid the closing strife,
In sight of victory, pour'd his gallant life;
While Gallic thousands eager toils sustain,
And death and danger brighten every train.
Where Tarleton strides, with hopes of flight elate,
Brave Lauzon moves, and drives him back to fate.
In one dread view, two chosen bands advance,
Columbia's veterans and the pride of France;
These bold Viominil exalts to fame,
And those Fayette's conducting guidance claim.
They lift the sword, with rival glory warm,
O'er piked ramparts pour the flaming storm,
The mounted thunders brave, and lead the foe,
In captive squadrons, to the plain below.
O'er all great Washington his arm extends,
Points every movement, every toil defends,
Bids closer strife and bloodier strokes proceed,
New batteries blaze and heavier squadrons bleed;
Round the grim foe approaching banners rise,
And shells like meteors vault the flaming skies.
With dire dismay the British chief beheld
The foe advance, his veterans quit the field;
Despair and slaughter when he turns his eye.
No hope in combat and no power to fly;
There dread De Grasse o'ershades the loaded tide,
Here conquering thousands all the champaign hide;
Fosses and batteries, growing on the sight,
Still pour new thunders and increase the fight,
Shells rain before him, rock the shores around
And craggs and balls o'erturn the tented ground;
From post to post, the driven ranks retire,
The earth in crimson and the skies on fire.
Now grateful truce suspends the burning war,
And groans and shouts, promiscuous, load the air;
When the pent squadrons, where the smokes decay,
Drop all their arms and move in open day.
Columbus saw the immeasurable train,
Thousands on thousands, redden all the plain;
Beheld the glorious Leader stand sedate,
Hosts in his chain, and banners at his feet;
Nor smile o'er all, nor chide the fallen chief,
But share with pitying eye his manly grief.
Thus thro' the extremes of life, in every state,
Shines the clear soul, beyond all fortune great;
While smaller minds, the dupes of fickle chance,
Slight woes o'erwhelm and sudden joys entrance.
So the full sun thro' all the changing sky,
Nor blasts, nor overpowers the naked eye;
Tho' transient splendors, borrow'd from his light,
Glance on the mirror and destroy the sight.
He points brave Lincoln, as they move along,
To claim the triumph of the trembling throng;
Who sees, once more, two armies shade the plain,
The mighty victors and the captive train.
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