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Who rises on the banks of Seine, And binds her temples with the civic wreath? What joy to read the promise of her mien! How sweet to rest her wide-spread wings beneath!But they are ever playing, And twinkling in the light, — And if a breeze be straying, That breeze she will invite; And stands on tiptoe, conscious she is fair, And calls a look of love into her face — And spreads her arms — as if the general air Alone could satisfy her wide embrace. — Melt, Principalities, before her melt! Her love ye hailed —her wrath have felt! But She through many a change of form hath gone, And stands amidst you now, an armed Creature, Whose panoply is not a thing put on, But the live scales of a portentous nature; That, having wrought its way from birth to birth, Stalks round — abhorred by Heaven, a terror to the Earth!
II. I marked the breathings of her dragon crest; My soul in many a midnight vision bowed Before the meanings which her spear expressed; Whether the mighty Beam, in scorn upheld, Threatened her foes, — or, pompously at rest, Seemed to bisect the orbit of her shield, Like to a long blue bar of solid cloud, At evening stretched across the fiery West.
So did she daunt the Earth, and God defy! And, wheresoe'er she spread her sovereignty, Pollution tainted all that was most pure. — Have we not known — and live we not to tell — That Justice seemed to hear her final knell? Faith buried deeper in her own deep breast Her stores — and sighed to find them insecure! And Hope was maddened by the drops that fell From shades—her chosen place of short-lived rest, Which, when they first received her, she had blest: Shame followed shame—and woe supplanted woe— Is this the only change that time can show? How long shall vengeance sleep? Ye patient Heavens, how long?
— Infirm ejaculation! from the tongue
Weak Spirits are there — who would ask,
Among the lurking powers
Of herbs and lowly flowers,
He must sink down to languish
Till the caves roar, — and, imbecility
Again engendering anguish, The same weak wish returns — that had before deceived him.
But Thou, Supreme Disposer! might'st not speed The course of things, and change the creed, Which hath been held aloft before Men's sight Since the first framing of societies, Whether, as Bards have told in ancient song, Built up by soft seducing harmonies, — Or pressed together by the appetite,
And by the power, of wrong!
COMPOSED IN JANUARY 1816.
When the soft hand of sleep had closed the latch