Joel Barlow Poems >>
Vision Of Columbus - Book 7
Hail sacred Peace, who claim'st thy bright abode,
Mid circling saints that grace the throne of God.
Before his arm, around the shapeless earth,
Stretch'd the wide heavens and gave to nature birth;
Ere morning stars his glowing chambers hung,
Or songs of gladness woke an angel's tongue,
Veil'd in the brightness of the Almighty's mind,
In blest repose thy placid form reclined;
Borne through the heavens with his creating voice,
Thy presence bade the unfolding worlds rejoice,
Gave to seraphic harps their sounding lays,
Their joys to angels, and to men their praise.
From scenes of blood, these beauteous shores that stain,
From gasping friends that press the sanguine plain,
From fields, long taught in vain thy flight to mourn,
I rise, delightful Power, and greet thy glad return.
Too long the groans of death, and battle's bray
Have rung discordant through the unpleasing lay:
Let pity's tear its balmy fragrance shed,
O'er heroes' wounds and patriot warriors dead;
Accept, departed Shades, these grateful sighs,
Your fond attendants to the approving skies.
And thou, my earliest friend, my Brother dear,
Thy fall untimely wakes the tender tear.
In youthful sports, in toils, in blood allied,
My kind companion and my hopeful guide,
When Heaven's sad summons, from our infant eyes
Had call'd our last, loved parent to the skies.
Tho' young in arms, and still obscure thy name,
Thy bosom panted for the deeds of fame,
Beneath Montgomery's eye, when, by thy steel,
In northern wilds, the lurking savage fell.
'Yet, hapless youth! when thy great leader bled,
Thro' the same wound thy parting spirit fled.
But now the untuneful trump shall grate no more,
Ye silver streams, no longer swell with gore;
Bear from your beauteous banks the crimson stain,
With yon retiring navies to the main.
While other views, unfolding on my eyes,
And happier themes bid bolder numbers rise.
Bring, bounteous Peace, in thy celestial throng
Life to my soul, and rapture to my song;
Give me to trace, with pure unclouded ray,
The arts and virtues that attend thy sway;
To see thy blissful charms, that here descend,
Through distant realms and endless years extend.
To cast new glories o'er the changing clime,
The Seraph now reversed the flight of time;
Roll'd back the years, that led their course before,
And stretch'd immense the wild uncultured shore;
The paths of peaceful science raised to view,
And show'd the ascending crouds that useful arts pursue.
As o'er the canvass, when the master's mind,
Glows with a future landscape, well design'd,
While gardens, vales and streets and structures rise,
A new creation to his kindling eyes;
He smiles o'er all; and, in delightful strife,
The pencil moves, and calls the whole to life.
So, while the great Columbus stood sublime,
And saw wild nature clothe the trackless clime;
The green banks heave, the winding currents pour,
The bays and harbours cleave the yielding shore,
The champaigns spread, the solemn groves arise,
And the rough mountains lengthen round the skies,
Through all the scene, he traced with skillful ken
The unform'd seats and future walks of men;
Mark'd where the fields should bloom, and streamers play,
And towns and empires claim their peaceful sway;
When, sudden waken'd by the Angel's hand,
They rose in pomp around the cultured land.
In western wilds, where still the natives tread,
From sea to sea an inland commerce spread;
O'er the dim streams and thro' the gloomy grove,
The trading bands their cumberous burdens move;
Where furrs and skins, and all the exhaustless store
Of midland realms descended to the shore.
Where summer's suns, along the northern coast,
With feeble force dissolve the chains of frost,
Prolific waves the scaly nations trace,
And tempt the toils of man's laborious race.
Though rich Peruvian strands, beneath the tide,
Their rocks of pearl and sparkling pebbles hide;
Lured by the gaudy prize, the adventurous train
Plunge the dark deep and brave the surging main;
Whole realms of slaves the dangerous labours dare,
To stud a sceptre or emblaze a star:
Yet wealthier stores these genial tides display,
And busy throngs with nobler spoils repay.
The hero saw the hardy hosts advance,
Cast the long line and aim the barbed lance;
Load the deep floating barks, and bear abroad
To each far clime the life-sustaining food;
While growing swarms by nature's hand supplied,
People the shoals and fill the exhaustless tide.
Where southern streams thro' broad savannahs bend,
The rice-clad vales their verdant rounds extend;
Tobago's plant its leaf expanding yields,
The maize luxuriant clothes a thousand fields;
Steeds, herds and flocks o'er northern regions rove,
Embrown the hill and wanton thro' the grove;
The wood-lands wide their sturdy honours bend,
The pines, the live-oaks to the shores descend;
Along the strand unnumber'd keels arise,
The huge hulls heave, and masts ascend the skies;
Launch'd in the deep, o'er eastern waves they fly,
Feed every isle and distant lands supply.
Silent he gazed; when thus the guardian Power-
These works of peace awhile adorn the shore;
But other joys and deeds of lasting praise
Shall crown their labours and thy rapture raise.
Each orient realm, the former pride of earth,
Where men and science drew their ancient birth,
Shall soon behold, on this enlighten'd coast,
Their fame transcended and their glory lost.
That train of arts, that graced mankind before,
Warm'd the glad sage or taught the Muse to soar,
Here with superior sway their progress trace,
And aid the triumphs of thy filial race;
While rising crouds, with genius unconfined,
Through deep inventions lead the astonish'd mind,
Wide o'er the world their name unrivall'd raise,
And bind their temples with immortal bays.
In youthful minds to wake the ardent flame,
To nurse the arts, and point the paths of fame,
Behold their liberal sires, with guardian care,
Thro' all the realms their seats of science rear.
Great without pomp the modest mansions rise;
Harvard and Yale and Princeton greet the skies;
Penn's ample walls o'er Del'ware's margin bend,
On James's bank the royal spires ascend,
Thy turrets, York, Columbia's walks command,
Bosom'd in groves, see growing Dartmouth stand;
While, o'er the realm reflecting solar fires,
On yon tall hill Rhode-Island's seat aspires.
O'er all the shore, with sails and cities gay,
And where rude hamlets stretch their inland sway,
With humbler walls unnumber'd schools arise,
And youths unnumber'd sieze the solid prize,
In no blest land has Science rear'd her fane,
And fix'd so firm her wide-extended reign;
Each rustic here, that turns the furrow'd soil,
The maid, the youth, that ply mechanic toil,
In freedom nurst, in useful arts inured,
Know their just claims, and see their rights secured.
And lo, descending from the seats of art,
The growing throngs for active scenes depart;
In various garbs they tread the welcome land,
Swords at their side or sceptres in their hand,
With healing powers bid dire diseases cease,
Or sound the tidings of eternal peace.
In no blest land has fair Religion shone,
And fix'd so firm her everlasting throne.
Where, o'er the realms those spacious temples shine,
Frequent and full the throng'd assemblies join;
There, fired with virtue's animating flame,
The sacred task unnumber'd sages claim;
The task, for angels great; in early youth,
To lead whole nations in the walks of truth,
Shed the bright beams of knowledge on the mind,
For social compact harmonize mankind,
To life, to happiness, to joys above,
The soften'd soul with ardent zeal to move;
For this the voice of Heaven, in early years,
Tuned the glad songs of life-inspiring seers,
For this consenting seraphs leave the skies,
The God compassionates, the Saviour dies.
Tho' different faiths their various orders show,
That seem discordant to the train below;
Yet one blest cause, one universal flame,
Wakes all their joys and centres every aim;
They tread the same bright steps, and smoothe the road,
Lights of the world and messengers of God.
So the galaxy broad o'er heaven displays
Of various stars the same unbounded blaze;
Where great and small their mingling rays unite,
And earth and skies repay the friendly light.
While thus the hero view'd the sacred band,
Moved by one voice and guided by one hand,
He saw the heavens unfold, a form descend,
Down the dim skies his arm of light extend,
From God's own altar lift a living coal,
Touch their glad lips and brighten every soul;
Then, with accordant voice and heavenly tongue,
O'er the wide clime these welcome accents rung.
Ye darkling race of poor distrest mankind,
For bliss still groping and to virtue blind,
Hear from on high th'Almighty's voice descend;
Ye heavens, be silent, and thou earth, attend.
I reign the Lord of life; I fill the round,
Where stars and skies and angels know their bound;
Before all years, beyond all thought I live,
Light, form and motion, time and space I give;
Touch'd by this hand, all worlds within me roll,
Mine eye their splendor and my breath their soul.
Earth, with her lands and seas, my power proclaims,
There moves my spirit, there descend my flames;
Graced with the semblance of the Maker's mind,
Rose from the darksome dust the reasoning kind,
With powers of thought to trace the eternal Cause,
That all his works to one great system draws,
View the full chain of love, the all-ruling plan,
That binds the God, the angel and the man,
That gives all hearts to feel, all minds to know
The bliss of harmony, of strife the woe.
This heaven of concord, who of mortal strain
Shall dare oppose-he lifts his arm in vain;
The avenging universe shall on him roll
The intended wrong, and whelm his guilty soul.
Then lend your audience; hear, ye sons of earth,
Rise into life, behold the promised birth;
From pain to joy, from guilt to glory rise,
Be babes on earth, be seraphs in the skies.
Lo, to the cries of grief mild mercy bends,
Stern vengeance softens and the God descends,
The atoning God, the pardoning grace to seal,
The dead to quicken and the sick to heal.
See from his sacred side the life-blood flow,
Hear in his groans unutterable woe;
While, fixt in one strong pang, the all-suffering Mind
Bears and bewails the tortures of mankind.
But lo, the ascending pomp! around him move
His rising saints, the first-born sons of love;
View the glad throng, the glorious triumph join,
His paths pursue and in his splendor shine;
Purged from your stains in his atoning blood,
Assume his spotless robes and reign beside your God.
Thus heard the hero-while his roving view
Traced other crouds that liberal arts pursue;
When thus the Seraph-Lo, a favourite band,
The torch of science flaming in their hand!
Thro' nature's range their ardent souls aspire,
Or wake to life the canvass and the lyre.
Fixt in sublimest thought, behold them rise,
Superior worlds unfolding to their eyes;
Heaven in their view unveils the eternal plan,
And gives new guidance to the paths of man.
See on yon darkening height bold Franklin tread,
Heaven's awful thunders rolling o'er his head;
Convolving clouds the billowy skies deform,
And forky flames emblaze the blackening storm.
See the descending streams around him burn,
Glance on his rod and with his guidance turn;
He bids conflicting heavens their blasts expire,
Curbs the fierce blaze and holds the imprison'd fire.
No more, when folding storms the vault o'er-spread,
The livid glare shall strike thy race with dread;
Nor towers nor temples, shuddering with the sound,
Sink in the flames and spread destruction round.
His daring toils, the threatening blast that wait,
Shall teach mankind to ward the bolts of fate;
The pointed steel o'er-top the ascending spire,
And lead o'er trembling walls the harmless fire;
In his glad fame while distant worlds rejoice,
Far as the lightnings shine or thunders raise their voice.
See the sage Rittenhouse, with ardent eye,
Lift the long tube and pierce the starry sky;
Clear in his view the circling systems roll,
And broader splendors gild the central pole.
He marks what laws the eccentric wanderers bind,
Copies creation in his forming mind,
And bids, beneath his hand, in semblance rise,
With mimic orbs, the labours of the skies.
There wondering crouds with raptured eye behold
The spangled heavens their mystic maze unfold;
While each glad sage his splendid hall shall grace,
With all the spheres that cleave the ethereal space.
To guide the sailor in his wandering way,
See Godfrey's toils reverse the beams of day.
His lifted quadrant to the eye displays
From adverse skies the counteracting rays;
And marks, as devious sails bewilder'd roll,
Each nice gradation from the stedfast pole.
See, West with glowing life the canvass warms;
His sovereign hand creates impassion'd forms,
Spurns the cold critic rules, to sieze the heart,
And boldly bursts the former bounds of Art.
No more her powers to ancient scenes confined,
He opes her liberal aid to all mankind;
She calls to life each patriot, chief or sage,
Garb'd in the dress and drapery of his age;
Again bold Regulus to death returns,
Again her falling Wolfe Britannia mourns;
Warriors in arms to frowning combat move,
And youths and virgins melt the soul to love;
Grief, rage and fear beneath his pencil start,
Roll the wild eye and pour the flowing heart;
While slumbering heroes wait his wakening call,
And distant ages fill the storied wall.
With rival force, see Copley's pencil trace
The air of action and the charms of face;
Fair in his tints unfold the scenes of state,
The Senate listens and the peers debate;
Pale consternation every heart appalls,
In act to speak, while death-struck Chatham falls.
His strong, deep shades a bold expression give,
Raised into light the starting figures live:
With polish'd pride the finish'd features boast,
The master's art in nature's softness lost.
Fired with the martial toils, that bathed in gore
His brave companions on his native shore
Trumbull with daring hand the scene recalls,
He shades with night Quebec's beleagur'd walls,
Mid flashing flames, that round the turrets rise,
Blind carnage raves and great Montgomery dies.
On Charlestown's height, thro' floods of rolling fire,
Brave Warren falls, and sullen hosts retire;
While other plains of death, that gloom the skies,
And chiefs immortal o'er his canvass rise.
See rural seats of innocence and ease,
High tufted towers and walks of waving trees,
The white waves dashing on the craggy shores,
Meandering streams and meads of spangled flowers,
Where nature's sons their wild excursions lead,
In just design, from Taylor's pencil spread.
Steward and Brown the moving portrait raise,
Each rival stroke the force of life conveys;
See circling Beauties round their tablets stand,
And rise immortal from their plastic hand;
Each breathing form preserves its wonted grace,
And all the soul stands speaking in the face.
Two kindred arts the swelling statue heave,
Wake the dead wax and teach the stone to live.
While the bold chissel claims the rugged strife,
To rouse the sceptred marble into life;
While Latian shrines their figured patriots boast,
And gods and heroes croud each orient coast,
See Wright's fair hands the livlier fire controul,
In waxen forms she breathes the impassion'd soul;
The pencil'd tint o'er moulded substance glows,
And different powers the unrivall'd art compose.
To equal fame ascends thy tuneful throng,
The boast of genius and the pride of song;
Warm'd with the scenes that grace their various clime,
Their lays shall triumph o'er the lapse of time.
With keen-eyed glance thro' nature's walks to pierce,
With all the powers and every charm of verse,
Each science opening in his ample mind,
His fancy glowing and his taste refined,
See Trumbull lead the train. His skillful hand
Hurls the keen darts of Satire thro' the land;
Pride, knavery, dullness, feel his mortal stings,
And listening virtue triumphs while he sings;
Proud Albion's sons, victorious now no more,
In guilt retiring from the wasted shore,
Strive their curst cruelties to hide in vain-
The world shall learn them from his deathless strain.
On glory's wing to raise the ravish'd soul,
Beyond the bounds of earth's benighted pole,
For daring Dwight the Epic Muse sublime
Hails her new empire on the western clime.
Fired with the themes by seers seraphic sung,
Heaven in his eye, and rapture on his tongue,
His voice divine revives the promised land,
The Heaven-taught Leader and the chosen band.
In Hanniel's fate, proud faction finds her doom,
Ai's midnight flames light nations to their tomb,
In visions bright supernal joys are given,
And all the dread futurities of heaven.
While freedom's cause his patriot bosom warms,
In counsel sage, nor inexpert in arms,
See Humphreys glorious from the field retire,
Sheathe the glad sword and string the sounding lyre;
That lyre which, erst, in hours of dark despair,
Roused the sad realms to urge the unfinish'd war.
O'er fallen friends, with all the strength of woe,
His heart-felt sighs in moving numbers flow;
His country's wrongs, her duties, dangers, praise,
Fire his full soul and animate his lays;
Immortal Washington with joy shall own
So fond a favourite and so great a son.
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