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ODE TO LIBERTY.
WHO shall awake the Spartan fife,
Shall sing the sword, in myrtles drest,
At Wisdom's shrine awhile its flame concealing, (What place so fit to seal a deed renown'd?)
Till she her brightest lightnings round revealing, It leap'd in glory forth, and dealt her prompted wound!
O goddess, in that feeling hour,
When most its sounds would court thy ears,
Let not my shell's misguided power
E'er draw thy sad, thy mindful tears.
No, Freedom, no, I will not tell,
How Rome, before thy face,
With heaviest sound, a giant-statue, fell,
Push'd by a wild and artless race,
From off its wide ambitious base,
When Time his northern sons of spoil awoke,
And all the blended work of strength and grace
With many a rude repeated stroke,
And many a barbarous yell, to thousand fragments
Yet, e'en where'er the least appear'd
(O, who could fear it!) quench'd her flame. And, lo, an humbler relic laid
In jealous Pisa's olive shade!
See small Marino joins the theme,
Or dwell in willow'd meads more near,
The perfect spell shall then avail,
Beyond the measure vast of thought,
No sea between, nor cliff sublime and hoary,
The wild waves found another way,
*The Dutch, amongst whom there are very severe penalties for those who are convicted of killing this bird. They are kept tame in almost all their towns, and particularly at the Hague, of the arms of which they make a part. The common people of Holland are said to entertain a superstitious sentiment, that if the whole species of them should become extinct, they should lose their liberties.
+ This tradition is mentioned by several of our old historians. Some naturalists, too, have endeavoured to support the probability of the fact, by arguments drawn from the correspondent disposition of the two opposite coasts. I do not remember that any poetical use has been hitherto made of it.
Where Orcas howls, his wolfish mountains rounding;
This pillar'd earth so firm and wide,
By winds and inward labours torn, In thunders dread was push'd aside,
And down the shouldering billows borne.
And see, like gems, her laughing train,
Mona*, once hid from those who search the main,
And Wight, who checks the westering tide,
For thee consenting Heaven has each bestow'd, A fair attendant on her sovereign pride:
To thee this blest divorce she ow'd,
For thou hast made her vales thy lov'd, thy last abode!
* There is a tradition in the Isle of Man, that a mermaid, becoming enamoured of a young man of extraordinary beauty, took an opportunity of meeting him one day as he walked on the shore, and opened her passion to him, but was received with a coldness, occasioned by his horrour and surprise at her appearance. This, however, was so misconstrued by the sea-lady, that, in revenge for his treatment of her, she punished the whole island, by covering it with a mist, so that all who attempted to carry on any commerce with it, either never arrived at it, but wandered up and down the sea, or were on a sudden wrecked upon its cliffs.
Then too, 't is said, an hoary pile,
before his favour'd eyes,
In Gothic pride it seems to rise!