James Beattie (25 October 1735 – 18 August 1803 / Laurencekirk in the Mearns, Scotland)
Ode To Peace
Peace, heaven-descended maid! whose powerful voice
From ancient darkness call'd the morn;
And hush'd of jarring elements the noise,
When Chaos, from his old dominion torn,
With all his bellowing throng,
Far, far was hurl'd the void abyss along;
And all the bright angelic choir,
Striking, through all their ranks, the eternal lyre,
Pour'd, in loud symphony, the impetuous strain;
And every fiery orb and planet sung,
And wide, through Night's dark solitary reign,
Rebounding long and deep, the lays triumphant rung!
Oh, whither art thou fled, Saturnian Age!
Roll round again, majestic years!
To break the sceptre of tyrannic rage;
From Woe's wan cheek to wipe the bitter tears;
Ye years, again roll round!
Hark! from afar what desolating sound,
While echoes load the sighing gales,
With dire presage the throbbing heart assails!
Murder, deep-roused, with all the whirl wind's haste,
And roar of tempest, from her cavern springs,
Her tangled serpents girds around her waist,
Smiles ghastly fierce, and shakes her gore-distilling wings.
The shouts, redoubling, rise
In thunder to the skies;
The nymphs disordered, dart along,
Sweet powers of solitude and song,
Stunn'd with the horros of discordant sound;
And all is listening, trembling round.
Torrents, far heard amid the waste of night,
That oft have led the wanderer right,
Are silent at the noise.
The mighty Ocean's more majestic voice,
Drown'd in superior din, is heard no more;
The surge in silence seems to sweep the foamy shore.
The bloody banner, streaming in the air,
Seen on yon sky-mix'd mountain's brow,
The mingling multitudes, the madding car,
Driven in confusion to the plain below,
War's dreadful Lord proclaim.
Bursts out, by frequent fits, the expansive flame;
Snatch'd in tempestuous eddies, flies
The surging smoke o'er all the darken'd skies;
The cheerful face of heaven no more is seen;
The bloom of morning of morning fades to deadly pale;
The bat flies transient o'er the dusky green,
And Night's foul birds along the sullen twilight sail.
Involved in fire-streak'd gloom, the car comes on,
The rushing steeds grim Terror guides,
His forehead writhed to a relentless frown,
Aloft the angry Power of Battles rides.
Grasped in his mighty hand
A mace tremendous desolates the land;
The tower rolls headlong down the steep,
The mountain shrinks before its wasteful sweep,
Chill horror the dissolving limbs invades,
Smit by the blasting lightning of his eyes;
A deeper gloom invests the howling shades;
Stripp'd is the shatter'd grove, and every verdure dies.
How startled Phrenzy stares,
Bristling her ragged hairs!
Revenge the gory fragment gnaws;
See, with her griping vulture claws
Imprinted deep, she rends the mangled wound!
Hate whirls her torch sulphureous round.
The shrieks of agony, and clang of arms,
Re-echo to the hoarse alarms,
Her trump terrific blows.
Disparting from behind, the clouds disclose,
Of kingly gesture, a gigantic form,
That with his scourge sublime rules the careering storm.
Ambition, outside fair! within as foul
As fiends of fiercest heart below,
Who rides the hurricanes of fire, that roll
Their thundering vortex o'er the realms of wo,
Yon naked waste survey;
Where late was heard the flute's mellifluous lay;
Where late the rosy-bosom'd hours,
In loose array, danced lightly o'er the flowers;
Where late the shepherd told his tender tale;
And, waken'd by the murmuring breeze of morn,
The voice of cheerful Labour fill'd the dale;
And dove-eyed Plenty smiled, and waved her liberal horn.
Yon ruins, sable from the wasting flame,
But mark the once resplendent dome;
The frequent corse obstructs the sullen stream
And ghosts glare horrid from the sylvan gloom.
How sadly silent all!
Save where, outstretch'd beneath yon hanging wall
Pale Famine moans with feeble breath,
And Anguish yells, and grinds his bloody teeth.
Though vain the muse, and every melting lay
To touch thy heart, unconscious of remorse!
Know, monster, know, thy hour is on the way;
I see, I see the years begin their mighty course.
What scenes of glory rise
Before my dazzled eyes!
Young zephyrs wave their wanton wings
And melody celestial rings.
All blooming on the lawn the nymphs advance,
And touch the lute, and range the dance:
And the blithe shepherds, on the mountain's side,
Array'd in all their rural pride,
Exalt the festive note,
Inviting Echo from her inmost grot -
But ah! the landscape glows with fainter light;
It darkens, swims and flies for ever from my sight.
Illusions vain! Can sacred
Where sordid gold the breast alarms,
Where Cruelty inflames the eye of Pride,
And Grandeur wantons in soft Pleasure's arms!
Ambition, these are thine!
These from the soul erase the form divine;
And quench the animating fire,
That warms the bosom with sublime desire.
Thence the relentless heart forgets to feel,
And Hatred triumphs on the o'erwhelming brow,
And midnight Rancour grasps the cruel steel;
Blaze the blue flames of death, and sound the shrieks of wo.
From Albion fled, thy once beloved retreat,
What regions brighten in thy smile,
! and underneath thy feet
See sudden flowers adorn the rugged soil?
In bleak Siberia blows,
Waked by the genial breath, the balmy rose?
Waved over by the magic wand,
Does life inform fell Lybia's burning sand?
O does some isle thy parting flight detain,
Where roves the Indian through primaeval shades
Haunts the pure pleasures of the sylvan reign,
And, led by Reason's light, the path of Nature treads?
On Cuba's utmost steep,
Far leaning o'er the deep,
The Goddess' pensive form was seen;
Her robe, of Nature's varied green,
Waved on the gale; grief dimm'd her radiant eyes;
Her bosom heaved with boding sighs;
She eyed the main, where, gaining on the view,
Emerging from the ethereal blue,
'Midst the dread of pomp of war,
Blazed the Iberian streamer from afar.
She saw; and, on refulgent pinions borne
Slow wing'd her way sublime, and mingled with the morn.
Comments about this poem (Ode To Peace by James Beattie )
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