1794.2 - "To My Country"

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British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793-1815, by Betty T. Bennet, Edited by Orianne Smith

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1794.2
To My Country
"A. B."
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXIV (February 1794), pp. 163-164

        The Bees and the Wasps.

    The vernal Sun's enliv'ning ray
        To labour cheer'd a hive of bees;
    Their patient toil, from day to day,
        The prize of industry atchieves. [sic]
In vain bleak Winter scoul'd upon his throne;
Their cells were fill'd, their summer's task was done.

    In full satiety they liv'd;
        Their king beneficent in mind;
    No want perplex'd, no anguish griev'd,
        But peace and plenty were conjoin'd.
In revelry they sipp'd the luscious store;
On in sweet slumbers pass'd the winter o'er.

    How bless'd a government so mild!
        But lasting bliss is not on earth;
    Fell faction and rebellion wild,
        Receive from pamper'd lux'ry birth.
Indulgence, sloth, and brooding spleen malign,
The happy hive to wretched strife consign.

    An upstart bee first shew'd his sting,
        And humming discontent began—
    "Shall we, my friends, support a king,
        "Who owes his title to our clan?
"Behold his size, his awful regal state—
"His growth expands from our laborious fate.

    "Shall we submit to royal pride;
        "Obey his mandate, view his scorn?—
    "To arms, my friends: for war provide,
        "To free equality we're born.
"Let hostile swarms provoke the civil strife,
And bee with bee contend for death or life."

    But, mark! sedate, the wisest bee
        Surrounds the throne with noble ire;
    The lawless throng shout liberty,
        And to their vaunting chief retire.
The vaunting chief persuades the rebel throng
T'assail the monarch, whether right or wrong.

    Nor parent tie or kindred claim,
    When host join host, regard;
    Each combatant to kill or maim,
    Sedition's glory and reward.
The father, son and brother, strew the ground,
And death insatiate heaps the bloody mound.

    At length the wasps, a murd'ring crew,
        The rebel-bees to join invite;
    The fierce invaders quickly slew,
        And stole the honey with delight;
Pretended friends t'espouse the rebel cause,
Entic'd by plunder, and to give new laws.

    The silly bees too late perceiv'd
        Their treasure rifled by false friends,
    And, oh! by Faction's glare deceiv'd,
        Destruction o'er the hive impends.
In loyal union 'gainst the wasps combine;
Respect their king, and patriots patriots join.

    The factious crowd now wait their doom;
        The humbled chieftian prostrate falls;
    Gaunt civil war for peace makes room,
        And the drain'd hive for justice calls,
Rebellion's guilt is punish'd; but the smart
Reaches too deep, and strikes the kingdom's heart.


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Published @ RC

September 2004