1795.4 - "Lines Written on the Capture of Gen. Kosciusko"

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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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1795.4
Lines
Written on the Capture of
Gen. Kosciusko
[1]
[Thomas Starling Norgate][2]
The Cabinet, I (1795), pp. 231-232

What spectred form is that, with tearful eye,
With heaving bosom, and with deep-drawn sigh,
Sorrowing in silence o'er the darken'd cell
Where, Kosciusko![3] thou art doom'd to dwell?
'Tis thee, lorn Liberty! whom once I knew
Cloth'd with the rosy morning's healthful hue,
Sweep the wide woodlands, and with carols gay
Swell the soft gales that usher in the day;
'Tis thee, lorn Liberty! with anguish wild
Now weeping o'er thy fond, thy fav'rite child!

No common sorrows hover round his head,
All nature sickens, all her joys are fled:
The moon extends a cold and dewy gleam,
And the sun saddens with a languid beam;
Pale livid lightnings thro' the welkin fly,
And pealing thunders shake the shudd'ring sky:
O'er the wide concave no kind star is found,
Night spreads her darkest, deepest shades around;
The war-worn vet'ran pours his pensive moan,
And in his leader's fate, laments his own!

Poor Kosciusko! long shall live thy fame,
And future infants learn to lisp thy name;
Ages unborn shall weep the hostile deed,
And curse the ruffian hand that made thee bleed![4]
Shall mourn that morning, when the vital tide
Purpled thy limbs, and bubbled from thy side,
When first on thee was pour'd the dungeon's gloom,
Mocking the midnight darkness of the tomb;
On thee—at once magnanimous and mild,
In war a hero, and in peace a child.

O may that band, who once by thee inspir'd,
By virtue sanction'd, and by freedom fir'd,
Who oft with thee, on Vist'la's winding banks,
Vanquish'd the warriors of proud Prussia's ranks,
Strike with a patriot arm, their wond'ring foes,
Weep o'er their country, but avenge her woes;
May triumph wave each banner in the field,
And frightful horror frown from ev'ry shield;
And like a storm that swells the troubled gale,
Rolls down the hill, and sweeps along the vale,
Cleaving in twain the forest's trembling king,
While the day darkens, and the mountains ring,
While the hoarse thunders with re-echoes roar,
Crack the white cliffs, and roll around the shore;
So may thy band, with firm collected force,
Scour the wide plains, and conquer in their course;
And, Kosciusko! ere thy soul have fled
To the dark, dreary mansions of the dead,
By thee led on, by thee their vengeance hurl'd,
Give tyrants death, and freedom to the world!


Notes

1. Kosciusko's defeat was a popular poetic subject. See Coleridge's sonnet Koskiusko, published in The Morning Chronicle, December 16, 1794.

2. A copy of the Cabinet in the British Library has inked-in identifications of some of the anonymous contributors to this publication. This poem is there attributed to Thomas Starling Norgate whose poetry frequently appeared in magazines and is known to have contributed to theCabinet (DNB, XIV, 556). A number of poems so ascribed have been verified.

3. Kosciusko was captured by the Russians and Prussians in October 1794 while trying to defend Poland.

4. [Author's note]: "He was wounded before he was taken prisoner."

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Published @ RC

September 2004