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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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1797.9
Ode to Peace
"Crito"
[Rev. John Duncombe][1]
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXVII (August 1797), pp. 693-694

O'er desolated fields, where move
To War's dread notes th' embattled host,
O Peace! display thy olive-wreath,
And bid the gentle voice of Love
(Soft as the Zephyr's vernal breeze)
From coast to coast,
In Rancour's hostile bosom breathe,
That warring passions there may cease,
And all the World be Harmony and Peace!
Then, from the castle's massy gate,
No more shall War's dread squadrons pour;
No more shall the awful charge of fate,
Around the peasant's hapless bow'r,
Shall by the trumpet's breath be blown,
Till all the kindled rage of battle glows:
But, Peace! in thy propitious reign,
The sons of Industry compose
A rural wreath, to deck thy radiant throne,
Of Flora's blushing flow'rs and Autumn's golden grain.
For all th' aspiring upland's brow,
And all the vale that winds below,
Th' unweary'd hand of Cultivation own,
And Population's chearful voice is heard in
                        ev'ry town!

Then boldly, ev'n on desert seas,
Adventure's sail shall court the breeze,
And to uncultur'd nations bear
The civil bliss that Britons share;
While Commerce, with her sails unfurl'd,
Brings to her ports the product of the world,
Till all the tide of wealth expand
In various channels through the land;
While laws that Freedom's flame inspires
Protect the property that Toil acquires;
And Britain's gen'rous bosom warms,
In grateful feelings, round her patriot king,
From whose paternal cares these heav'nly
                    blessings spring;
    Or with resentment glows
At treach'rous Gaul's ambitious aim,
Whose cold malignant heart ne'er knows
The patriot light that gilds a Brunswick's name!

Tho', gentle Peace, thou fly the plain
Where Valour leads the warrior train,
And Discord, in his iron car,
Swells high th' impetuous rage of War;
Yet, to the Muse's raptur'd eye,
Two of the gentle train are near,
Soft Pity that bestows its sigh,
And Sympathy that prompts the tear.
Sweet mourning nymphs! 'tis yours to learn
Each deeply-plaintive tale at Sorrow's
                     sacred urn.

Oft, Mourners! to yon living tomb,
Where sad the captive soldier lies,
While sickly damps around him rise,
Pensive and sad in shadowy stole ye come;
    Or join yon hoary form,
Who, from domestic comfort torn,
By Sorrow's frequent vigils worn,
Expos'd to Age's wint'ry storm,
    Without a friend,
Sighs to the passing gales that bend
The arbour, where Youth's visionary ray
Had promis'd fairer views to Life's retiring day.
And long his sacred griefs shall fall
On this bleak desert, cold and wild;
For, at Affection's ardent call
No more returns his absent child;
That child 'midst Valour's ranks has bled,
And many an ev'ning sun has gilt his
                  grassy bed!

What are the triumphs Gallia boasts;
The blood-stain'd wreaths that crown her hosts,
To the mild joys that civil arts bestow,
The calm of social life, and Freedom's
                temperate glow?
And, Britain! in this radiant sphere, 'tis thine
In Glory's tranquil dignity to shine;
Save when Ambition grasps the lance,
And, in tumultuous fury hurl'd,
Shake with convulsing arms the world:
Then from the wave encircled shore,
As far as Neptune's billows roar,
'Midst Vict'ry's wreaths thou bidd'st the
            floating war advance!

Tho' now the British thunder roll,
In awful peals, from Pole to Pole;
Yet, in the Muse's radiant eye,
Thy sacred form, O Peace! is nigh;
And, from her soft, prophetic tongue,
These gentle accents breathe along:
"No more the clarion's martial sound
"Shall vibrate o'er the tented ground;
"But thither Love and Joy repair,
"And shed a sweet contagion there;
"No more the Pencil's glowing dies
"Shall bid the Epic Field arise;
"The eye from Valour's imag'd deeds,
"At Pity's soft impulse, recedes;
"The hero's name, in notes of fire,
"No more shall tremble from the lyre,
"But, in the Reed's sweet warbling lays,
"Shall live some theme of rural praise;
"While, circling round the social hearth,
"Soft fly the choral songs of mirth;
"And 'midst the sylvan shades are heard
"(When on the crimson'd hill
"The Sun has left his farewell rays.)
"The breathing lute, the Ev'ning's plaintive bird,
"The breeze that 'midst the trembling foliage plays,
"And the sweet plaintive voice of many
"a murm'ring rill."


Notes

1. Rev. John Duncombe, under this pseudonym, contributed to The Gentleman's
Magazine
for twenty years: 1765-1785.

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