Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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ODE

                                 I

          IMAGINATION--ne'er before content,
          But aye ascending, restless in her pride
          From all that martial feats could yield
          To her desires, or to her hopes present--
          Stooped to the Victory, on that Belgic field,
          Achieved, this closing deed magnificent,
              And with the embrace was satisfied.
                  --Fly, ministers of Fame,
          With every help that ye from earth and heaven may claim!
          Bear through the world these tidings of delight!
          --Hours, Days, and Months, 'have' borne them in the sight
          Of mortals, hurrying like a sudden shower
              That landward stretches from the sea,
              The morning's splendours to devour;
          But this swift travel scorns the company
          Of irksome change, or threats from saddening power.
              --'The shock is given--the Adversaries bleed'--
              'Lo, Justice triumphs! Earth is freed!'
          Joyful annunciation!--it went forth--
          It pierced the caverns of the sluggish North--
                  It found no barrier on the ridge
          Of Andes--frozen gulphs became its bridge--
          The vast Pacific gladdens with the freight--
          Upon the Lakes of Asia 'tis bestowed--
          The Arabian desert shapes a willing road
                  Across her burning breast,
          For this refreshing incense from the West!--
          --Where snakes and lions breed,
          Where towns and cities thick as stars appear,
          Wherever fruits are gathered, and where'er
          The upturned soil receives the hopeful seed--
          While the Sun rules, and cross the shades of night--
          The unwearied arrow hath pursued its flight!
          The eyes of good men thankfully give heed,
                And in its sparkling progress read
          Of virtue crowned with glory's deathless meed:
          Tyrants exult to hear of kingdoms won,
          And slaves are pleased to learn that mighty feats are done;
          Even the proud Realm, from whose distracted borders
          This messenger of good was launched in air,
          France, humbled France, amid her wild disorders,
          Feels, and hereafter shall the truth declare,
          That she too lacks not reason to rejoice,
          And utter England's name with sadly-plausive voice.

                                 II

          O genuine glory, pure renown!
          And well might it beseem that mighty Town
          Into whose bosom earth's best treasures flow,
          To whom all persecuted men retreat;
          If a new Temple lift her votive brow
          High on the shore of silver Thames--to greet
          The peaceful guest advancing from afar.
          Bright be the Fabric, as a star
          Fresh risen, and beautiful within!--there meet
          Dependence infinite, proportion just;
          A Pile that Grace approves, and Time can trust
          With his most sacred wealth, heroic dust.

                                III

                But if the valiant of this land
          In reverential modesty demand,
          That all observance, due to them, be paid
          Where their serene progenitors are laid;
          Kings, warriors, high-souled poets, saint-like sages,
          England's illustrious sons of long, long ages;
          Be it not unordained that solemn rites,
          Within the circuit of those Gothic walls,
          Shall be performed at pregnant intervals;
          Commemoration holy that unites
          The living generations with the dead;
                By the deep soul-moving sense
                Of religious eloquence,--
                By visual pomp, and by the tie
                Of sweet and threatening harmony;
                Soft notes, awful as the omen
                Of destructive tempests coming,
                And escaping from that sadness
                Into elevated gladness;
                While the white-robed choir attendant,
                Under mouldering banners pendant,
          Provoke all potent symphonies to raise
                Songs of victory and praise,
          For them who bravely stood unhurt, or bled
          With medicable wounds, or found their graves
          Upon the battle field, or under ocean's waves;
          Or were conducted home in single state,
          And long procession--there to lie,
          Where their sons' sons, and all posterity,
          Unheard by them, their deeds shall celebrate!

                                 IV

                Nor will the God of peace and love
                Such martial service disapprove.
                He guides the Pestilence--the cloud
                Of locusts travels on his breath;
                The region that in hope was ploughed
          His drought consumes, his mildew taints with death;
                He springs the hushed Volcano's mine,
          He puts the Earthquake on her still design,
          Darkens the sun, hath bade the forest sink,
          And, drinking towns and cities, still can drink
          Cities and towns--'tis Thou--the work is Thine!--
          The fierce Tornado sleeps within thy courts--
                He hears the word--he flies--
                And navies perish in their ports;
          For Thou art angry with thine enemies!
                For these, and mourning for our errors,
                And sins, that point their terrors,
          We bow our heads before Thee, and we laud
          And magnify thy name, Almighty God!
                But Man is thy most awful instrument,
                In working out a pure intent;
          Thou cloth'st the wicked in their dazzling mail,
          And for thy righteous purpose they prevail;
                Thine arm from peril guards the coasts
                Of them who in thy laws delight:
          Thy presence turns the scale of doubtful fight,
          Tremendous God of battles, Lord of Hosts!

                                 V

                Forbear:--to Thee--
          Father and Judge of all, with fervent tongue
                But in a gentler strain
          Of contemplation, by no sense of wrong,
          (Too quick and keen) incited to disdain
          Of pity pleading from the heart in vain--
                TO THEE--TO THEE--
          Just God of christianised Humanity
          Shall praises be poured forth, and thanks ascend,
          That thou hast brought our warfare to an end,
          And that we need no second victory!
          Blest, above measure blest,
          If on thy love our Land her hopes shall rest,
          And all the Nations labour to fulfil
          Thy law, and live henceforth in peace, in pure good will.
                                                              1816.


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