Why mourns the ingenuous Moralist, whose mind
Science has stored, and Piety refined,
That fading Chivalry displays no more
Her pomp and stately tournaments of yore!
Lo! when Philosophy and Truth advance,
Scared at their frown, she drops her glittering lance;
Round her reft castles the pale ivy crawls,
And sunk and silent are her bannered halls!
As when far off the golden evening sails,
And slowly sink the fancy-painted vales,
With rich pavilions spread in long array;
So rolls the enchanter's radiant realm away;
So on the sight the parting glories fade,
The gorgeous vision sets in endless shade.
But shall the musing mind for this lament,
Or mourn the wizard's Gothic fabric rent!
Shall he, with Fancy's poor and pensive child,
Gaze on his shadowy vales, and prospects wild,
With lingering love, and sighing bid farewell
To the dim pictures of his parting spell!
No, BURKE! thy heart, by juster feelings led,
Mourns for the spirit of high Honour fled;
Mourns that Philosophy, abstract and cold,
Withering should smite life's fancy-flowered mould;
And many a smiling sympathy depart,
That graced the sternness of the manly heart.
Nor shall the wise and virtuous scan severe
These fair illusions, ev'n to nature dear.
Though now no more proud Chivalry recalls
Her tourneys bright, and pealing festivals;
Though now on high her idle spear is hung,
Though Time her mouldering harp has half unstrung;
Her milder influence shall she still impart,
To decorate, but not disguise, the heart;
To nurse the tender sympathies that play
In the short sunshine of life's early way;
For female worth and meekness to inspire
Homage and love, and temper rude desire;
Nor seldom with sweet dreams sad thoughts to cheer,
And half beguile affliction of her tear!
Lo! this her boast; and still, O BURKE! be thine
Her glowing hues that warm, yet tempered shine;
Whilst whispers bland, and fairest dreams, attend
Thy evening path, till the last shade descend!
So may she soothe, with loftier wisdom's aid,
Thy musing leisure in the silent shade,
And bid poor Fancy, her cold pinions wet,
Life's cloudy skies and beating showers forget.
But can her fairest form, her sweetest song,
Soothe thee, assailed by calumny and wrong!
Ev'n now thy foes with louder accents cry:
Champion of unrelenting tyranny,
At Freedom hast thou aimed the deadly blow,
And striven with impious arm to lay her altars low!
No, BURKE! indignant at the voice we start:
We trust thy liberal views, thy generous heart;
We think of those who, naked, pale, and poor,
Relieved and blessed, have wandered from thy door;
We see thee with unwearied step explore
Each track of bloodshed on the farthest shore
Of injured Asia, and thy swelling breast
Harrowing the oppressor, mourning for the oppressed,
No, BURKE! where'er Injustice rears her head,
Where'er with blood her idol grim is fed;
Where'er fell Cruelty, at her command,
With crimson banner marches through the land,
And striding, like a giant, onward hies,
Whilst man, a trodden worm, looks up, and dies;
Where'er pale Murder in her train appears,
With reeking axe, and garments wet with tears;
Or, lowering Jealousy, unmoved as Fate,
Bars fast the prison-cage's iron gate
Upon the buried sorrows and the cries
Of him who there, lost and forgotten, lies;--
When ministers like these, in fearful state,
Upon a bloody tyrant's bidding wait,
Thou too shalt own (and Justice lift her rod)
The cause of Freedom is the cause of GOD!
Fair spirit, who dost rise in beauteous pride,
Where proud Oppression hath thine arm defied!
When led by Virtue thou dost firm advance,
And bathe in Guilt's warm blood thy burning lance;
When all thy form its awful port assumes,
And in the tempest shake thy crimson plumes,
I mark thy lofty mien, thy steady eye,
So fall thy foes! with tears of joy I cry.
But ne'er may Anarchy, with eyes a-flame,
And mien distract, assume thy awful name;
Her pale torch sheds afar its hideous glare,
And shows the blood-drops in her dabbled hair;
The fiends of discord hear her hollow voice,
The spirits of the deathful storm rejoice:
As when the rising blast with muttering sweep
Sounds 'mid the branches of the forest deep,
The sad horizon lowers, the parting sun
Is hid, strange murmurs through the high wood run,
The falcon wheels away his mournful flight,
And leaves the glens to solitude and night;
Till soon the hurricane, in dismal shroud,
Comes fearful forth, and sounds her conch aloud;
The oak majestic bows his hoary head,
And ruin round his ancient reign is spread:
So the dark fiend, rejoicing in her might,
Pours desolation and the storm of night;
Before her dread career the good and just
Fly far, or sink expiring in the dust;
Wide wastes and mighty wrecks around her lie,
And the earth trembles at her impious cry!
Whether her temple, wet with human gore,
She thus may raise on Gallia's ravaged shore,
Belongs to HIM alone, and His high will,
Who bids the tempests of the world be still.
With joy we turn to Albion's happier plain,
Where ancient Freedom holds her temperate reign;
Where Justice sits majestic on her throne;
Where Mercy turns her ear to every groan.
O Albion! fairest isle, whose verdant plain
Springs beauteous from the blue and billowy main;
In peaceful pomp whose glittering cities rise,
And lift their crowded temples to the skies;
Whose navy on the broad brine awful rolls;
Whose commerce glows beneath the distant poles;
Whose streams reflect full many an Attic pile;
Whose velvet lawns in long luxuriance smile;
Amid whose winding coombs contentment dwells,
Whose vales rejoice to hear the Sabbath bells;
Whose humblest shed, that steady laws protect,
The villager with woodbine bowers hath decked!
Sweet native land, whose every haunt is dear,
Whose every gale is music to mine ear;
Amidst whose hills one poor retreat I sought,
Where I might sometimes hide a saddening thought,
And having wandered far, and marked mankind
In their vain mask, might rest and safety find:
Oh! still may Freedom, with majestic mien,
Pacing thy rocks and the green vales, be seen;
Around thy cliffs, that glitter o'er the main,
May smiling Order wind her silver chain;
Whilst from thy calm abodes, and azure skies,
Far off the fiend of Discord murmuring flies!
To him who firm thy injured cause has fought,
This humble offering, lo! the Muse has brought;
Nor heed thou, BURKE, if, with averted eye,
Scowling, cold Envy may thy worth decry!
It is the lot of man:--the best oft mourn,
As sad they journey through this cloudy bourne:
If conscious Genius stamp their chosen breast,
And on the forehead show her seal impressed,
Perhaps they mourn, in bleak Misfortune's shade,
Their age and cares with penury repaid;
Their errors deeply scanned, their worth forgot,
Or marked by hard injustice with a blot.
If high they soar, and keep their distant way,
And spread their ample pinions to the day,
Malignant Faction hears with hate their name,
And all her tongues are busy with their fame.
But 'tis enough to hold, as best we may,
Our destined track, till sets the closing day;
Whether with living lustre we adorn
Our high sphere, like the radiance of the morn;
Or whether silent in the shade we move,
Cheered by the lonely star of pensive love;
Or whether wild opposing storms we stem,
Panting for Virtue's distant diadem;
'Tis the unshaken mind, the conscience pure,
That bids us firmly act, meekly endure;
'Tis this may shield us when the storm beats hard,
Content, though poor, had we no other guard!

More verses by William Lisle Bowles