Southey - Literary Contexts

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The Fall of Robespierre, Edited by Daniel E. White

Southey, "The Ides of March. March 15," published in MP 15 March 1798, from RS 5.181.


This were a day, O holiest Liberty!
To deck thine altars, and with choral song,
Such as with loftiest feeling swells the heart,
To hymn thy triumphs, giving their fair fame
To those who in thy service liv'd and died
Friends to the human race. Thy myrtled sword,
Aristogeiton! and Harmodius thine,
And the long list of Heroes that adorn
Athenian annals; to whose deeds the soul,
'Spurning the yoke of these inglorious days,'
Looks back and contemplates with kindling pride
Her own ennobled nature. But to thee,
Chiefly to thee, O best and blameless name!
brutus! be this day hallow'd. On this day
Thine arm was rais'd, th' avenging arm for Rome
For Freedom, for Mankind; and on the height
Of earthly pow'r, that summit he had sought
Successful thro' ambition's bloody paths,
Thy dagger pierced the Tyrant. liberty!
This were a day with garlands to adorn
Thy shrine, to raise on high the choral hymn,
And conscious of our nature's nobleness,
To vow ourselves to thee, in serving whom
Is freedom. But thy shrines are desolate;
But sea-girt Albion, once thy fav'rite isle,
Disowns thee now.
                              Roman! thou hast not died.
In th' islands of the blessed thy pure soul
Enjoys its meed; there where the Gracchi dwell
With Hampden and with Sydney – names rever'd,
Roman! receive thy praise! one honest heart
'Tho fall'n on evil times,' remembers thee
And to thy mem'ry sanctifies this day.

 
 
 
 
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Notes

10. 'Spurning ... days,'] Mark Akenside, "The Pleasures of Imagination. A Poem in Three Books' (1774), 2.721.

31. 'Tho' fallen on evil times,'] Milton, PL 7.25 [adapted].

Published @ RC

March 2008

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