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Odi, e i singulti, e le querele e i pianti
Delle donne tremanti,
Che, al fiero aspetto dei comun perigli,
Stringonsi al senno i vecchi padri e i figli.-FILICAIA.
Hear ye the march as of the Earth-born Forms
Array'd against the everliving Gods?
The crash and darkness of a thousand storms
Bursting their inaccessible abodes
Of crags, and thunder-clouds?
See ye the banners blazon'd to the day,
Inwrought with emblems of barbaric pride?
SHELLEY," Ode to Naples."
LUXURY with her paralysing mace
Had broke the vigour of a noble Race,
That loved of fêtes the vain magnificence,
And all the waste of prodigal expense.
Ease-loving men, and traitors, it is fear'd,
To check the march of Freedom then appear'd.
They shrunk from deeds their Country's cause required,
And recreant some against that cause conspired.
Catherine, who on the throne her minion placed,-
Good Heavens! a throne by Sobieski graced,
The prize of Europe's chivalry, a throne
Coveted as the Conqueror's laurel crown,—
"Be on my head the blood of Poland, mine
The blame!" exclaim'd the frontless Catherine.
Voluptuous Amazon! in peace or war
Alike renown'd; a Mistress or a Czar!
When mad ambition goads a Queen, or lust,
You might her "magnanimity" distrust.
Though meretricious glory gilds her name,
Insulted, ravaged Poland blasts her fame.
Ambitioning, though mantled in the robe
Of moderation, to subdue the globe,
Russia a self-styled arbitress became
Of parties that she gloried to inflame
Through Poland strong her noxious influence grew-
Old factions she revived, engender'd new.
In this sad drama Russia play'd her part,
Subtle, through Europe with a Tartuffe's art;
Of justice canted, justice! and deceived
Those who forgot her acts, her words believed.
The scene was darken'd; slaughter on the stage
Rush'd with her Northern wolves, intense their rage,
Howling for rapine; fast and fast a horde
Succeeding horde, o'er ravaged Poland pour'd
Their fury, prompt to murder, burn, destroy;
Such demon acts the master-fiends enjoy!
All that could be by valour-crested men
Achieved, was done by brave Sarmatians then.
Thousands half-arm'd fought gallantly, and fell;
They dared, as gentle Catherine said, rebel:
Presumptuous men, against maternal sway
They rose, of war in all the disarray!
The half-form'd bands, with partial conquest flush'd
Against the Northern hordes collected rush'd
And broke; though scatter'd, here and there again
Sprung up like fires volcanic, but in vain.
Imprudent! When emotions strong confuse
The senses, who the path of prudence choose?
Some noble chiefs, of wealth immense possest
All hazarded to save the state opprest.
The coldest hate of arms invasive feel;
That hate sublimes a chivalrous spirit's zeal.
Radzivil with an energy untamed,
For savage greatness, and rude splendour famed,
Like Kings in the heroic ages, grand
In soul, shone first among a daring band
With whom adventures high so natural seem'd,
They realized romance that others dream'd.
Even from the tombs the voices of the dead
Rose on their ears, of comrades massacred;
Or cries of fetter'd brethren, from the night
Of dungeons, urged them to unequal fight.
Like Knights with superhuman prowess fraught,
As told by Bards in olden times they fought;
Each for his country fought, as if the charm
Of her existence rested in his arm :
His sun-bright panoply was justice, shield
Truth, yet he perish'd on the battle-field.
Like fair Clorinda* star of glory glow'd
The Maidt who near her brother hero rode :
Her aspect bright the plumed warriors cheer'd,
Their guide to conquest when the foe appear'd.
And chivalry's wild-fire a purer flame
Through woman's self-devotedness became.
The strength of purpose, and instinctive zeal
For right, her gentle nature will conceal
When smooth the surface is of life; let waves
Run high, the storm undaunted woman braves.
Though nursed in pleasure all fatigue she bears,
And danger with the hardiest Soldier shares !
Could valour irrepressible, that rose
Brighter, as darken'd round a cloud of foes,
Could valour save their father-land, the bold
Patriots had saved her triumph'd Russian gold,
Aided by contests that prevailed among
Nobles thus weaken'd, else in union strong.
O! had they merged all jealousies in one
Impulse to crush the common foe alone;
Sarmatia might have flourish'd still unbroke,
And never felt a barbarous nation's yoke!
In vain Pulawski‡ came a god in war,
Flashing o'er prostrate hosts his scymitar.
*The hero in Tasso's "Jerusalem Delivered."
The sister of Radzivil.
Casimir Pulawski. See Rulhière, tome iv. p. 105.
Courteous in camps as Sydney, perfect knight, Terrific as a lion in the fight!
Unconquerable spirit! that would dare
Hope against hope, where heroes might despair.
Vain his heart-piercing eloquence, that tore
To pieces cant of diplomatic lore,
Insult to common sense, that with parade
Of sentiment mock'd rights it dared invade!
Brave as the Maccabees, as good their cause,
The brothers for their country fought and laws*.
Whence but from love of country they derived
Untiring courage that defeat survived
Or cruelties unutterable, these
Terror-producing engines despots please.
Repnine, with gross debaucheries o'erstain'd
O'er the mock king a subtle viceroy reign'd.
If fail'd intrigue, for violence prepared,
Seldom his sword the worthy Russian spared.
Whether as fox or blood-hound, he imbruted
His nature as imperial Catherine suited.
Creatures subservient to the art or spleen
Of power even Repnines in this age are seen,
To break, enforce the laws, whate'er may be
For seizing on their neighbours' goods the plea.