A Tear for Albion.—1808
“S. M. W****G.”
The Poetical Magazine, II (1810), pp. 169-170
Say, can the Bard, who owns his native land,
Love 'mid the tempest of her skies to sing;
Or call her sentence, with prophetic hand,
In deep-ton'd numbers from the Pythian string?
No! ev'ry feeling chides th' ungrateful thought,
Nature's loud mandate bids him bend and weep
O'er the wide wreck that marks his country's lot,
Till Fate's last billows hide it in the deep.
Yet why, since streams that Pity's eye has pour'd,
Are softly mingling in the hallow'd fount,
Should they, in vain, awake her plaintive chord,
Or flow unheeded down the sacred mount?
Dear Albion! loveliest daughter of the sea,
When with thy gladd'ning dawn th' horizon glow'd,
Pale Envy dropp'd her dart and gaz'd on thee,
And strangers wond'ring sought thy blest abode.
There was a day (Reflection yet recalls
Bright from the annals of thy favour'd land,
On Fame's high temple's adamantine walls
It stands engrav'd by Mem'ry's mighty hand)
When, deeply rooted in its native rock,
Thy tree of commerce rais'd its stately head;
Whilst, guarded safely from each foreign shock,
The blossom flourish'd as the branches spread.
Its fruit matur'd was scatter'd on thy breast,
Where Peace beneath her olive-bow'r had made;
And sky-born Freedom built her eagle nest
High 'mid the verdure of the fragrant shade.
But howling since along the frowning sky,
And wing 'd with tempest, has demoniac War
Flash'd his fierce lightnings, shook his sword on high,
Hewn the broad trunk, and strew'd its limbs afar.
So grew that tree which Babel's haughty King
Saw in the nightly visions of his soul,
As late, upborne on Pride's misguided wing,
He view'd the glories of his wide control.
But whilst he cried, in that ill-fated hour,
"How great is Babylon! secure I reign!"
The branch of empire, and the bloom of pow'r
Fell crush'd, and wither'd on the blasted plain.
His boasted name, to infamy consign'd,
Lost in the ruins of his fallen throne;
And soon (O Albion!) to his humbled mind,
Instruction taught a lesson like thy own:—
That He who hurls, by his unerring word,
The bolts of Justice flaming on the land,
Has ne'er unsheath'd in vain th' avenging sword,
Nor pois'd the balance with a palsied hand.
Yet, if mild Mercy shield thy hapless head,
If her eternal band preserve the whole,
May thy fair foliage yet reviving spread
A goodly shadow wide, from pole to pole!
May He, whose thunders shake thy sea-beat shore,
Bid each rude storm that wastes thy honours cease;
And with the sceptre of thy sway restore
The robe of Joy—the diadem of Peace!