Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
The Anarchiad
By Lemuel Hopkins (1750–1801)
 
IN visions fair, the scenes of fate unroll,
And Massachusetts opens on my soul.
There Chaos, Anarch old, asserts his sway,
And mobs in myriads blacken all the way:
See Day’s stern port, behold the martial frame        5
Of Shays’ and Shattuck’s mob-compelling name:
See the bold Hampshirites on Springfield pour,
The fierce Tauntonians crowd the alewife shore.
O’er Concord fields, the bands of discord spread,
And Worcester trembles at their thundering tread:        10
See from proud Egremont, the woodchuck train
Sweep their dark files, and shade with rags the plain.
Lo, the court falls; the affrighted judges run,
Clerks, lawyers, sheriffs, every mother’s son.
The stocks, the gallows, lose the expected prize,        15
See the jails open, and the thieves arise.
Thy constitution, Chaos, is restored;
Law sinks before thy uncreating word;
Thy hand unbars the unfathom’d gulph of fate,
And deep in darkness whelms the new born state.
*      *      *      *      *      *
        20
  BOW low, ye heavens, and all ye lands draw near,
The voice prophetic of great Anarch hear!
From eastern climes, by light and order driven,
To me, by fate, this western world was given;
My standard rear’d, the realm imperial rules,        25
The last asylum for my knaves and fools.
Here shall my best and brightest empire rise,
Wild riot reign, and discord greet the skies.
Awake, my chosen sons, in folly brave,
Stab independence, dance o’er freedom’s grave;        30
Sing choral songs, while conquering mobs advance,
And blot the debts to Holland, Spain, and France;
Till ruin come, with fire and sword and blood,
And men shall ask, where your republics stood?
  Thrice happy race! how bless’d are discord’s heirs!        35
Bless’d while they know what anarchy is theirs;
Bless’d while they feel, to them alone ’t is given
To know no sovereign, neither law nor heaven.
From all mankind by traits peculiar known,
By frauds and lies distinguish’d for mine own,        40
Wonder of worlds! like which to mortal eyes,
None e’er have risen, and none e’er shall rise!
  Lo, the poor Briton, who, corrupted, sold,
Sees God in courts, or hears him chink in gold,
Whose soul proud empire oft has taught to stray,        45
Far as the western world and gates of day;
Though plagued with debts, with rage of conquest curst,
In rags and tender-acts he puts no trust;
But in the public weal, his own forgets,
Finds heaven for him who pays the nation’s debts;        50
A heaven like London his fond fancy makes
Of nectar’d porter and ambrosial steaks.
  Not so, Columbia, shall thy sons be known,
To prize the public weal above their own;
In faith and justice least, as last in birth,        55
Their race shall grow a by-word through the earth:
Long skill’d to act the hypocritic part,
Grace on the brow, and knavery at the heart,
Perform their frauds, with sanctimonious air,
Despise good works, and balance sins by prayer.        60
Forswear the public debt, the public cause,
Cheat heaven with forms, and earth with tender-laws,
And leave the empire, at its latest groan,
To work salvation out by faith alone.
  Behold the reign of anarchy begun,        65
And half the business of confusion done.
From hell’s dark caverns, discord sounds alarms,
Blows her loud trump, and calls my Shays to arms;
O’er half the land the desperate riot runs,
And maddening mobs assume their rusty guns.        70
From councils feeble, bolder faction grows,
The daring corsairs, and the savage foes;
O’er western wilds the tawny bands, allied,
Insult the state of weakness and of pride;
Once friendly realms, unpaid each generous loan,        75
Wait to divide, and share them for their own.
  Now sinks the public mind; a deathlike sleep
O’er all the torpid limbs begins to creep;
By dull degrees, decays the vital heat,
The blood forgets to flow, the pulse to beat.        80
The powers of life, in mimic death withdrawn,
Closed the fix’d eyes with one expiring yawn;
Exposed in state to wait the funeral hour,
Lie the pale relics of departed power,
While conscience harrowing up their souls with dread,        85
Their ghost of empire stalks without a head.
  No more stands forth to check the rising feud,
Their great defender of the public good.
Retired, in vain his sighs their fate deplore;
He hears, unmoved, the distant tempest roar:        90
No more to save a realm dread Greene appears,
Their second hope, prime object of my fears:
Far in the south, from his pale body riven,
The deathful angel wings his soul to heaven.
  Here shall I reign, unbounded and alone,        95
Nor men, nor demons shake my baseless throne;
Till comes the day—but late oh may it spring—
When their tumultuous mobs shall ask a king;
A king in wrath shall heaven, vindictive, send,
And my confusions and my empire end.”        100
  With arms where bickering fires innumerous shine,
Like the torn surface of the midnight brine;
In sunbright robes, that dazzled as he trod,
The stature, motion, armor of a god,
Great Hesper rose—the guardian of the clime—        105
O’er shadowy cliffs he stretch’d his arms sublime,
And check’d the Anarch old—“Malicious fiend,
Eternal curses on thy head descend!
Heaven’s daring purpose can thy madness mar,
To glut thine eyes with ruin, death and war!        110
I know thee, Anarch, in thy cheerless plight,
Thou eldest son of Erebus and Night!
Yes, bend on me thy brows of hideous scowl,
Roll thy wild eyeballs, like the day-struck owl;
In Zion blow the trump, resound it far;        115
Fire the red beacons of intestine war;
Yet know for this, thyself to penance call’d,
Thy troops in terrors, their proud hearts appall’d.
Even Shays, that moment when eternal night
Rolls darkening shadows o’er his closing sight,        120
Shall feel, ’t were better on a plank to lie,
Where surging billows kiss the angry sky;
’T were better through a furnace fiery red,
With naked feet on burning coals to tread;
Than point his sword, with parricidious hand,        125
Against the bosom of his native land.
  “Where is the spirit of bold freedom fled?
Dead are my warriors, all my sages dead?
Is there—Columbia bending o’er her grave—
No eye to pity, and no arm to save?        130
  “Sister of freedom, heaven’s imperial child,
Serenely stern, beneficently mild,
Bless’d independence, rouse my sons to fame,
Inspire their bosoms with thy sacred flame!
Teach, ere too late, their blood-bought rights to prize,        135
Bid other Greenes and Washingtons arise!
Teach those who suffer’d for their country’s good,
Who strove for freedom, and who toil’d in blood,
Once more in arms to make the glorious stand,
And bravely die, or save their natal land.        140
  “Yes, they shall rise, terrific in their rage,
And crush the factions of the faithless age:
Bid law again exalt the impartial scale,
And public justice o’er her foes prevail:
Restore the reign of order and of right,        145
And drive thee, howling, to the shades of night.”
*      *      *      *      *      *
  YE sires of nations, call’d in high debate,
From kindred realms, to save the sinking state,
A boundless sway on one broad base to rear—
My voice paternal claims your lingering ear;        150
O’er the wide clime my fostering cares extend,
Your guardian genius and your deathless friend.
  When splendid victory on her trophied car,
Swept from these shores the last remains of war,
Bade each glad state, that boasts Columbia’s name,        155
Exult in freedom and ascend to fame,
To bliss unbounded stretch their ardent eyes,
And wealth and empire from their labor rise,
My raptured sons beheld the discord cease,
And soothed their sorrows in the songs of peace.        160
  Shall these bright scenes, with happiest omens born,
Fade like the fleeting visions of the morn?
Shall this fair fabric from its base be hurl’d,
And whelm in dust the glories of the world?
Will ye, who saw the heavens tempestuous lower,        165
Who felt the arm of irritated power,
Whose souls distending with the wasting flood,
Prepared the firm foundations, built in blood,
By discord seized, will ye desert the plan?
The unfinish’d Babel of the bliss of man?        170
  Go search the field of death, where heroes, lost
In graves obscure, can tell what freedom cost.
Though conquest smiled; there slain amid the crowd,
And plung’d promiscuous with no winding shroud,
No friendly hand their gory wounds to lave,        175
The thousands moulder in a common grave,
Not so thy son, oh Laurens! gasping lies,
Too daring youth, war’s latest sacrifice;
His snow-white bosom heaves with writhing pain,
The purple drops his snow-white bosom stain;        180
His cheek of rose is wan, a deadly hue
Sits on his face, that chills with lucid dew.—
There Warren, glorious with expiring breath,
A comely corse, that smiles in ghastly death:
See Mercer bleed, and o’er yon wintry wall,        185
’Mid heaps of slain, see great Montgomery fall!
  Behold those veterans worn with want and care,
Their sinews stiffen’d, silver’d o’er their hair,
Weak in their steps of age, they move forlorn,
Their toils forgotten by the sons of scorn;        190
This hateful truth still aggravates the pain,
In vain they conquer’d, and they bled in vain.
Go then, ye remnants of inglorious wars,
Disown your marks of merit, hide your fears,
Of lust, of power, of titled pride accused,        195
Steal to your graves dishonor’d and abused.
  For see, proud faction waves her flaming brand,
And discord riots o’er the ungrateful land;
Lo, to the north a wild adventurous crew
In desperate mobs the savage state renew;        200
Each felon chief his maddening thousands draws,
And claims bold license from the bond of laws;
In other states the chosen sires of shame,
Stamp their vile knaveries with a legal name;
In honor’s seat the sons of meanness swarm,        205
And senates base, the work of mobs perform,
To wealth, to power the sons of union rise,
While foes deride you and while friends despise.
  Stand forth, ye traitors, at your country’s bar,
Inglorious authors of intestine war;        210
What countless mischiefs from their labors rise!
Pens dipp’d in gall, and lips inspired with lies!
Ye sires of ruin, prime detested cause
Of bankrupt faith, annihilated laws,
Of selfish systems, jealous, local schemes,        215
And union’d empire lost in empty dreams:
Your names expanding with your growing crime,
Shall float disgustful down the stream of time,
Each future age applaud the avenging song,
And outraged nature vindicate the wrong.        220
  Yes there are men, who, touch’d with heavenly fire,
Beyond the confines of these climes aspire,
Beyond the praises of a tyrant age,
To live immortal in the patriot page;
Who greatly dare, though warning worlds oppose,        225
To pour just vengeance on their country’s foes.
  And lo! the etherial worlds assert your cause,
Celestial aid the voice of virtue draws;
The curtains blue of yon expansion rend:
From opening skies heroic shades descend.        230
See, robed in light, the forms of heaven appear,
The warrior spirits of your friends are near;
Each on his steed of fire (his quiver stored
With shafts of vengeance) grasps his flaming sword:
The burning blade waves high, and, dipp’d in blood,        235
Hurls plagues and death on discord’s faithless brood.
  Yet what the hope? the dreams of congress fade,
The federal union sinks in endless shade,
Each feeble call, that warns the realms around,
Seems the faint echo of a dying sound,        240
Each requisition wafts in fleeting air,
And not one state regards the powerless prayer.
  Ye wanton states, by heaven’s best blessings cursed,
Long on the lap of fostering luxury nursed,
What fickle frenzy raves, what visions strange,        245
Inspire your bosoms with the lust of change?
And frames the wish to fly from fancied ill,
And yield your freedom to a monarch’s will?
  Go view the lands to lawless power a prey,
Where tyrants govern with unbounded sway;        250
See the long pomp in gorgeous state display’d,
The tinsel’d guards, the squadron’d horse parade;
See heralds gay with emblems on their vest,
In tissued robes tall beauteous pages drest;
Where moves the pageant, throng unnumber’d slaves,        255
Lords, dukes, and princes, titulary knaves
Confusedly shine, the purple gemm’d with stars,
Sceptres, and globes, and crowns, and rubied cars,
On gilded orbs the thundering chariots roll’d,
Steeds snorting fire, and champing bitts of gold,        260
Prance to the trumpet’s voice—while each assumes
A loftier gait, and lifts his neck of plumes.
High on the moving throne, and near the van,
The tyrant rides, the chosen scourge of man;
Clarions, and flutes, and drums his way prepare,        265
And shouting millions rend the conscious air;
Millions, whose ceaseless toils the pomp sustain,
Whose hour of stupid joy repays an age of pain.
  From years of darkness springs the regal line,
Hereditary kings by right divine;        270
’T is theirs to riot on all nature’s spoils,
For them with pangs unblest the peasant toils,
For them the earth prolific teems with grain,
Theirs, the dread labors of the devious main,
Annual for them the wasted land renews        275
The gifts oppressive, and extorted dues,
For them when slaughter spreads the gory plains,
The life-blood gushes from a thousand veins,
While the dull herd, of earth-born pomp afraid,
Adore the power that coward meanness made.        280
Let Poland tell what woe returning springs,
Where right elective yields the crown to kings!
War guides the choice—each candidate abhorr’d
Founds his firm title on the wasting sword,
Wades to the throne amid the sanguine flood,        285
And dips his purple in the nation’s blood.
  Behold, where Venice rears her sea-girt towers,
O’er the vile crowd proud oligarchy lowers;
While each Aristocrat affects a throne,
Beneath a thousand kings the poor plebeians groan.        290
  Nor less abhorr’d the certain woe that waits
The giddy rage of democratic states;
Whose popular breath, high blown in restless tide,
No laws can temper, and no reason guide;
An equal sway their mind indignant spurns,        295
To wanton change the bliss of freedom turns,
Led by wild demagogues the factious crowd,
Mean, fierce, imperious, insolent and loud,
Nor fame nor wealth nor power nor system draws,
They see no object and perceive no cause,        300
But feel by turns, in one disastrous hour,
Th’ extremes of license and th’ extremes of power.
  What madness prompts, or what ill-omen’d fates,
Your realm to parcel into petty states?
Shall lordly Hudson part contending powers?        305
And broad Potomac lave two hostile shores?
Must Allegany’s sacred summits bear
The impious bulwarks of perpetual war?
His hundred streams receive your heroes slain?
And bear your sons inglorious to the main?        310
Will states cement by feebler bonds allied?
Or join more closely as they more divide?
Will this vain scheme bid restless factions cease?
Check foreign wars or fix internal peace?
Call public credit from her grave to rise?        315
Or gain in grandeur what they lose in size?
In this weak realm can countless kingdoms start
Strong with new force in each divided part?
While empire’s head, divided into four,
Gains life by severance of diminish’d power?        320
So when the philosophic hand divides
The full grown polypus in genial tides,
Each sever’d part, inform’d with latent life,
Acquires new vigor from the friendly knife,
O’er peopled sands the puny insects creep,        325
Till the next wave absorbs them in the deep.
  What then remains? must pilgrim freedom fly
From these loved regions to her native sky?
When the fair fugitive the orient chased,
She fix’d her seat beyond the watry waste;        330
Her docile sons (enough of power resign’d,
And natural rites in social leagues combined,)
In virtue firm, though jealous in her cause,
Gave senates force and energy to laws,
From ancient habit local powers obey,        335
Yet feel no reverence for one general sway,
For breach of faith no keen compulsion feel,
And feel no interest in the federal weal.
But know, ye favored race, one potent head,
Must rule your states, and strike your foes with dread,        340
The finance regulate, the trade control,
Live through the empire, and accord the whole.
  Ere death invades, and night’s deep curtain falls,
Through ruin’d realms the voice of Union calls;
Loud as the trump of heaven through darkness roars,        345
When gyral gusts entomb Caribbean towers,
When nature trembles through the deeps convulsed,
And ocean foams from craggy cliffs repulsed,
On you she calls! attend the warning cry,
“Ye live united, or divided die.”        350
 
 
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