Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Verses for the New Year, 1762
By Nathaniel Evans (1742–1767)
 
  STILL as emerges from the womb of time,
Each circling year, you claim our humble rhyme;
But where ’s the muse, whose fiery numbers best
Shall rouse heroic ardor in each breast?
To wing the flight where conquest leads the way,        5
Transcends our song, and mocks the feeble lay.
Such themes sublime best suit a rapturous lyre,
And bards transported with poetic fire—
Yet when inspired with Britain’s glorious fame,
What bosom glows not with the hallow’d flame?        10
 
  When angry Gallia pour’d her hostile train,
Intent on plunder, o’er th’ Atlantic main;
Strangers to arms, we knew no murderous art,
Nor crimson falchion, nor the poisonous dart,
From earliest youth, instructed to abhor        15
The deadly engines of destructive war;
The cannon’s sound, as dire assail’d our ears,
As Jove’s red thunder, when he shakes the spheres.
 
  Yet to our aid when mighty Brunswick came,
It kindled in each breast the martial flame;        20
Undaunted as our warlike troops advance,
To walls, inglorious, shrink the sons of France;
Their cities storm’d, their chiefs in fetters bound,
And their proud ramparts levell’d with the ground.
 
  O’er this new world, thus have Britannia’s arms        25
Restored lost peace, and exiled war’s alarms;
Again rich commerce crowns the merchant’s toil,
And smiling Ceres paints the pregnant soil.
Thus the good shepherd, when he views from far
The deadly wolves beset his fleecy care,        30
Quick to their help his guardian crook he wields,
And soon the prowling throng is scatter’d o’er the fields.
Yet not to us is Britain’s care confined,
Her fame is wafted to remotest Ind;
By justice call’d, her chiefs, with matchless swords,        35
Have humbled mighty Asia’s proudest lords;
Far distant scenes her martial deeds of proclaim,
And Pondicherry bows to Britain’s name.
 
  See the sad chance of all destructive war—
See Lally captived at the victor’s car;        40
Lally, whose soul the maddening furies claim,
And cursed with longings for the voice of fame.
So when a tyger, flush’d with reeking blood,
Ramps o’er the plains, and tears the leafy wood,
A lion spies him from his secret cave,        45
Bursts from his stand, to seize the insulting slave;
Then hunts him, generous, from the neighboring fields,
And peace and safety to the forest yields.
 
  O’er Europe too, great George’s arms prevail,
And on its seas his fleets triumphant sail;        50
Witness Belleisle, around whose wave-worn shore
His navies ride, and his loud cannons roar.
Oh! could we boast the seeds of epic song,
Immortal Frederick should the verse prolong;
The chief should shine, inclosed with fields of dead,        55
And guardian angels hovering round his head.
There, in dread chains the barbarous Russ should bow,
And here, submissive, kneel the Hungarian foe;
There should be seen to bend, the sons of Gaul,
Here lesser troops, his enemies, should fall.        60
Thus firm a rock, begirt with raging waves,
Stands the fierce charge, though all the tempest raves;
Now round his summit dash the broken tides,
And vainly beat his adamantine sides!
But these we leave to deck the historic page,        65
And wake the wonder of a future age.
 
  Now let our muse the Paphian trumpet blow,
Beauty ’s the theme, and melting strains shall flow.
See Neptune, mounting with his nereid train,
To smooth the surface of the azure main;        70
As conscious of his charge, he joys to please
The beauteous Charlotte, mistress of the seas!
The jovial sailors ply their shining oars,
And now they reach fair Albion’s white-cliff shores;
With warbling flutes, and hautboy’s pleasing sound,        75
They spread sweet music’s silver notes around.
On Cydnus’ stream, so once array’d was seen
Fair Cleopatra, Egypt’s beauteous queen.
 
But here we fix, rejoiced to see you bless’d,
And Britain’s glory in each clime confess’d!        80
 
 
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