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   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
254. Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland
 
Andrew Marvell (1621–1678)
 
 
THE FORWARD youth that would appear,
Must now forsake his Muses dear,
    Nor in the shadows sing
    His numbers languishing.
 
’Tis time to leave the books in dust,        5
And oil the unused armour’s rust,
    Removing from the wall
    The corslet of the hall.
 
So restless Cromwell could not cease
In the inglorious arts of peace,        10
    But through adventurous war
    Urgèd his active star:
 
And like the three-fork’d lightning, first
Breaking the clouds where it was nurst,
    Did thorough his own side        15
    His fiery way divide:
 
For ’tis all one to courage high,
The emulous, or enemy;
    And with such, to enclose
    Is more than to oppose;        20
 
Then burning through the air he went
And palaces and temples rent;
    And Cæsar’s head at last
    Did through his laurels blast.
 
’Tis madness to resist or blame        25
The face of angry heaven’s flame:
    And if we would speak true,
    Much to the Man is due
 
Who, from his private gardens, where
He lived reservèd and austere,        30
    (As if his highest plot
    To plant the bergamot),
 
Could by industrious valour climb
To ruin the great work of time,
    And cast the Kingdoms old        35
    Into another mould.
 
Though Justice against Fate complain,
And plead the ancient Rights in vain—
    But those do hold or break
    As men are strong or weak,        40
 
Nature, that hateth emptiness,
Allows of penetration less,
    And therefore must make room
    Where greater spirits come.
 
What field of all the civil war        45
Where his were not the deepest scar?
    And Hampton shows what part
    He had of wiser art,
 
Where, twining subtle fears with hope,
He wove a net of such a scope        50
    That Charles himself might chase
    To Carisbrook’s narrow case,
 
That thence the Royal actor borne
The tragic scaffold might adorn:
    While round the armèd bands        55
    Did clap their bloody hands.
 
He nothing common did or mean
Upon that memorable scene,
    But with his keener eye
    The axe’s edge did try;        60
 
Nor call’d the Gods, with vulgar spite,
To vindicate his helpless right
    But bow’d his comely head
    Down, as upon a bed.
 
—This was that memorable hour        65
Which first assured the forcèd power:
    So when they did design
    The Capitol’s first line,
 
A Bleeding Head, where they begun,
Did fright the architects to run;        70
    And yet in that the State
    Foresaw its happy fate!
 
And now the Irish are ashamed
To see themselves in one year tamed:
    So much one man can do        75
    That does both act and know.
 
They can affirm his praises best,
And have, though overcome, confest
    How good he is, how just
    And fit for highest trust;        80
 
Nor yet grown stiffer with command,
But still in the Republic’s hand—
    How fit he is to sway
    That can so well obey!
 
He to the Commons’ feet presents        85
A Kingdom for his first year’s rents,
    And (what he may) forbears
    His fame, to make it theirs:
 
And has his sword and spoils ungirt
To lay them at the Public’s skirt.        90
    So when the falcon high
    Falls heavy from the sky,
 
She, having kill’d, no more does search
But on the next green bough to perch,
    Where, when he first does lure,        95
    The falconer has her sure.
 
—What may not then our Isle presume
While victory his crest does plume?
    What may not others fear
    If thus he crowns each year?        100
 
As Cæsar he, ere long, to Gaul,
To Italy an Hannibal,
    And to all States not free
    Shall climacteric be.
 
The Pict no shelter now shall find        105
Within his parti-colour’d mind,
    But from this valour sad,
    Shrink underneath the plaid—
 
Happy, if in the tufted brake
The English hunter him mistake,        110
    Nor lay his hounds in near
    The Caledonian deer.
 
But Thou, the War’s and Fortune’s son,
March indefatigably on;
    And for the last effect        115
    Still keep the sword erect:
 
Besides the force it has to fright
The spirits of the shady night,
    The same arts that did gain
    A power, must it maintain.        120
 

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