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Thomas Campbell (1777-1844)

The Pleasures of Hope

(excerpt)


PART I

...

          339   Where barbarous hordes on Scythian mountains roam,
          340Truth, Mercy, Freedom, yet shall find a home;
          341Where'er degraded Nature bleeds and pines,
          342From Guinea's coast to Sibir's dreary mines,
          343Truth shall pervade the unfathomed darkness there,
          344And light the dreadful features of despair.
          345Hark! the stern captive spurns his heavy load,
          346And asks the image back that Heaven bestowed.
          347Fierce in his eye the fire of valour burns,
          348And, as the slave departs, the man returns.

          349   Oh! sacred Truth! thy triumph ceased awhile,
          350And Hope, thy sister, ceased with thee to smile,
          351When leagued Oppression poured to Northern wars
          352Her whiskered pandoors and her fierce hussars,
          353Waved her dread standard to the breeze of morn,
          354Pealed her loud drum, and twanged her trumpet horn;
          355Tumultuous horror brooded o'er her van,
          356Presaging wrath to Poland--and to man!

          357   Warsaw's last champion from her height surveyed
          358Wide o'er the fields, a waste of ruin laid;
          359"Oh! Heaven!" he cried, "my bleeding country save!
          360Is there no hand on high to shield the brave?
          361Yet, though destruction sweep these lovely plains,
          362Rise, fellow men! our country yet remains!
          363By that dread name we wave the sword on high,
          364And swear for her to live!--with her to die!"

          365   He said, and on the rampart-heights arrayed
          366His trusty warriors, few but undismayed;
          367Firm-paced and slow, a horrid front they form,
          368Still as the breeze, but dreadful as the storm;
          369Low murmuring sounds along their banners fly,
          370Revenge, or death,--the watch-word and reply;
          371Then pealed the notes, omnipotent to charm,
          372And the loud tocsin tolled their last alarm!

          373   In vain, alas! in vain, ye gallant few!
          374From rank to rank your volleyed thunder flew;
          375Oh, bloodiest picture in the book of Time,
          376Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a crime;
          377Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe,
          378Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her woe!
          379Dropped from her nerveless grasp the shattered spear,
          380Closed her bright eye, and curbed her high career,--
          381Hope, for a season, bade the world farewell,
          382And Freedom shrieked--as Kosciusko fell!

          383   The sun went down, nor ceased the carnage there.
          384Tumultuous murder shook the midnight air;
          385On Prague's proud arch the fires of ruin glow,
          386His blood-dyed waters murmuring far below;
          387The storm prevails, the rampart yields a way;
          388Bursts the wide cry of horror and dismay!
          389Hark! as the smouldering piles with thunder fall,
          390A thousand shrieks for hopeless mercy call!
          391Earth shook; red meteors flashed along the sky,
          392And conscious Nature shuddered at the cry!

          393   Oh! righteous Heaven! ere Freedom found a grave,
          394Why slept the sword omnipotent to save?
          395Where was thine arm, O Vengeance! where thy rod,
          396That smote the foes of Zion and of God,
          397That crushed proud Ammon, when his iron car
          398Was yoked in wrath, and thundered from afar?
          399Where was the storm that slumbered till the host
          400Of blood-stained Pharaoh left their trembling coast,
          401Then bade the deep in wild commotion flow,
          402And heaved an ocean on their march below?

...


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Thomas Campbell. The Pleasures of Hope. Edinburgh: Mundell, 1799. B-10 8958 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1799
RPO poem editor: J. D. Robins
RP edition: 2RP.2.148.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/25


Other poems by Thomas Campbell