[Page [229]]



1 WHILE in long exile far from you I roam,
2 To soothe my heart with images of home,
3 For me, my friend, with rich poetic grace
4 The landscapes of my native Isle you trace;
5 Her cultur'd meadows, and her lavish shades,
6 The rivers winding through her lovely glades;
7 Far as where, frowning on the flood below,
8 The rough Welsh mountain lifts its craggy brow.
9 Meanwhile my steps have stray'd where Autumn yields
10 A purple harvest on the sunny fields;
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11 Where, bending with their luscious weight, recline
12 The loaded branches of the clust'ring vine;
13 There, on the Loire's sweet banks, a joyful band
14 Cull'd the rich produce of the fruitful land;
15 The youthful peasant, and the village maid,
16 And age and childhood lent their feeble aid.
17 The labours of the morning done, they haste
18 Where in the field is spread the light repast;
19 The vintage-baskets serve, revers'd, for chairs,
20 And the gay meal is crown'd with tuneless airs.
21 Delightful land! ah, now with gen'ral voice,
22 Thy village sons and daughters may rejoice;
23 Thy happy peasant, now no more a slave,
24 Forbad to taste one good that nature gave,
25 No longer views with unavailing pain
26 The lavish harvest, ripe for him in vain.
27 Oppression's cruel hand shall dare no more
28 To seize its tribute from his scanty store;
29 And from his famish'd infants wring the spoils,
30 Too hard-earn'd produce of his useful toils;
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31 For now on Gallia's plain the peasant knows
32 Those equal rights impartial heav'n bestows;
33 He now, by freedom's ray illumin'd, taught
34 Some self-respect, some energy of thought,
35 Discerns the blessings that to all belong,
36 And lives to guard his humble shed from wrong.
37 Auspicious Liberty! in vain thy foes
38 Deride thy ardour, and thy force oppose;
39 In vain refuse to mark thy spreading light,
40 While, like the mole, they hide their heads in night,
41 Or hope their eloquence with taper-ray
42 Can dim the blaze of philosophic day;
43 Those reas'ners, who pretend that each abuse,
44 Sanction'd by precedent, has some blest use!
45 Does then a chemic power to time belong,
46 Extracting by some process right from wrong?
47 Must feudal governments for ever last,
48 Those Gothic piles, the work of ages past?
49 Nor may obtrusive reason dare to scan,
50 Far less reform, the rude, mishapen plan?
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51 The winding labyrinths, the hostile towers,
52 Where danger threatens, and where horror lowers;
53 The jealous drawbridge, and the mote profound,
54 The lonely dungeon in the cavern'd ground;
55 The sullen dome above those central caves,
56 Where liv'd one despot and a host of slaves?
57 Ah, Freedom, on this renovated shore
58 That fabric frights the moral world no more!
59 Shook to its basis by thy powerful spell,
60 Its triple walls in massy fragments fell;
61 While, rising from the hideous wreck, appears
62 The temple thy firm arm sublimely rears;
63 Of fair proportions, and of simple grace,
64 A mansion worthy of the human race.
65 For me, the witness of those scenes, whose birth
66 Forms a new era in the storied earth;
67 Oft, while with glowing breast those scenes I view,
68 They lead, ah friend belov'd, my thoughts to you!
69 Still every fine emotion they impart
70 With your idea mingles in my heart;
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71 You, whom I oft have heard, with gen'rous zeal,
72 With all that truth can urge, or pity feel,
73 Refute the pompous argument, that tried
74 The common cause of millions to deride;
75 With reason's force the plausive sophist hit,
76 Or dart on folly the bright flash of wit;
77 And warmly share, with philosophic mind,
78 The great, the glorious triumph of mankind.


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Genres: heroic couplet; address

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Poems on various subjects: with introductory remarks on the present state of science and literature in France. London: G. and W. B. Whittaker, 1823, pp. [229]-233. 

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

Other works by Helen Maria Williams