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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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1801.13
Ode to Peace
Helen Maria Williams
The Morning Chronicle (November 17, 1801)
The Poetical Register and Repository of Fugitive Poetry, V (1807), pp. 463-465

Written in Paris

By Helen Maria Williams

She comes, benign Enchantress, heav'n-born PEACE,
    With Mercy beaming in her radiant eye!—
She bids the horrid Din of Battle cease,
    And at her glance the savage Passions die!
'Tis nature's Festival: let Earth rejoice,
    Vanquish'd and Conqu'ror pour exulting Songs;
In distant regions, with according voice,
    Let Man the vict'ry bless—its prize to Man belongs!

Resistless FREEDOM—when she nerves the arm
    No vulgar triumph crowns the Hero's might:
She, she alone can spread a moral charm
    O'er WAR's fell deeds, and SANCTIFY the fight!
Oh, GALLIA, in this bright immortal hour
    How proud a trophy binds thy laurell'd brow!
REPUBLIC, hail, whose independent pow'r
    All Earth CONTESTED ONCE, All Earth CONFESSES NOW!

Protecting Spirits of the glorious Dead,
    Ah, not in vain the Hero's Noble toil,
Ah, not in vain the Patriot's blood is shed—
    That Blood shall CONSECRATE his Native Soil!
Illustrious Names to hist'ry's record dear,
    And breath'd when some high impulse fires the Bard,
For you shall VIRTUE pour the glowing tear—
    And your remember'd deeds shall still your Country guard!

And thou, lov'd BRITAIN, my parental Isle,
    Secure encircled by thy subject Waves,
Thou Land august, where FREEDOM rear'd her pile,
    While Gothic Night obscur'd a world of Slaves;
Thy Genius, that indignant heard the shock
    Of frantic combat (strife unmeet for thee!)
Now views, triumphant, from his sea-girt rock
    Thee unsubdued alone; for thou alone wert free!

Oh, happy thy misguided efforts fail'd,
    My Country, when with tyrant hosts combin'd!
Oh, hideous CONQUEST, had thy sword prevail'd,
    And crown'd the impious League against Mankind;
Thou nurse of great design, of lofty thought,
    What Homicide, had thy insensate rage
Effac'd the sacred lesson thou hast taught,
    And with thy purest Blood inscrib'd on GLORY's page!

Ah, rather haste to CONCORD'S holy shrine,
    Ye rival Nations—haste with joy elate;
Your blending Garlands round her Altar twine,
    And bind the wounds of no immortal hate;
Go, breathe responsive rituals o'er the sod
    Where FREEDOM's Martyrs press an early grave;
Go, vow that never shall their turf be trod
    By the polluting step of Tyrant or of Slave!

And from your shores the abject Vices chase—
    That low AMBITION gen'rous Souls disdain,
CORRUPTION, blasting ev'ry moral grace;
    SERVILITY, that kneels to bless his Chain!
Oh, LIBERTY, those Demons fare remove:
    Come, Nymph, severely good, sublimely great;
Nor to the 'raptur'd hope of mortals prove
    Like those illusive dreams that pass the Iv'ry Gate!

New Age, that rolls o'er man thy dawning year,
    Ah, sure all happy omens hail thy birth;
Sure whiter annals in thy train appear,
    And purer glory cheers the gladden'd Earth.
Like the young Eagle, when his stedfast glance
    Meets the full Sun-beam in his upward flight,
So thou shalt with majestic step advance,
    And fix thy dauntless eye on Liberty and Light!


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September 2004

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