Joan of Arc - Literary Contexts

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The Fall of Robespierre, Edited by Daniel E. White

Lines by Coleridge from Southey's Joan of Arc, an Epic Poem (1796), Book 2, lines 1-37 (RS 1.23-4). [These lines were later rearranged and included in the opening of Coleridge's "The Destiny of Nations" in Sibylline Leaves (1817) (CC 16.1.1.281-2).]

No more of Usurpation's doom'd defeat,
Ere we the deep preluding strain have pour'd
To the Great Father, Only Rightful King,
Eternal Father! King Omnipotent!
Beneath whose shadowy banners wide unfurl'd
Justice leads forth her tyrant-quelling Hosts.
Such Symphony requires best Instrument.
Seize then my Soul! from Freedom's trophied Dome
The Harp which hanging high between the shields
Of Brutus and Leonidas, oft gives
A fitful music to the breezy touch
Of patriot Spirits that demand their fame.
For what is Freedom, but the unfetter'd use
Of all the Powers which God for use had given?
But chiefly this, with holiest habitude
Of constant Faith, him First, him Last to view
Thro' meaner powers and secondary things
Effulgent, as thro' clouds that veil his blaze.
For all that meets the bodily sense I deem
Symbolical, one Mighty alphabet
For infant minds; and we in this low world
Placed with our backs to bright Reality,
That we may learn with young unwounded ken
Things from their shadows. Know thyself my Soul!
Confirm'd thy strength, thy pinions fledged for flight
Bursting this shell and leaving next thy nest
Soon upward soaring shalt thou fix intense
Thine eaglet eye on Heaven's eternal Sun!
But some there are who deem themselves most free,
When they within this gross and visible sphere
Chain down the winged thought, scoffing ascent
Proud in their meanness: and themselves they cheat
With noisy emptiness of learned phrase,
Their subtle fluids, impacts, essences,
Self-working Tools, uncaus'd Effects, and all
Those blind Omniscients, those Almighty Slaves,
Untenanting Creation of its God.

 
 
 
 
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Published @ RC

March 2008