Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
The Triumphs of Liberty
By Ebenezer Baily (1795–1839)
 
        SPIRIT of Freedom, hail!
  Whether thy steps are in the sunny vale,
    Where Peace and Happiness reside
    With Innocence and thee, or glide
      To caverns deep, and vestal fountains,        5
      Mid the stern solitude of mountains,
      Where airy voices still prolong,
      From cliff to cliff, thy jocund song.
  We woo thy presence—thou wilt smile upon
  The full heart’s tribute to thy favourite son,        10
  Who held communion with thee, and unfurl’d
  In light, thy sacred charter to the world.
 
      We feel thy influence, power divine,
  Whose angel smile can make the desert shine;
      For thou hast left thy mountain’s brow,        15
      And art with men no stranger now.
    Where’er thy joyous train is seen
      Disporting with the merry hours,
    Nature laughs out, in brighter green,
      And wreathes her brow with fairy flowers:        20
      Pleasure waves her rosy wand,
      Plenty opens wide her hand—
        On Rapture’s wings,
    To heaven the choral anthem springs,
      And all around, above, below,        25
      Exult and mingle, as they glow,
  In such harmonious ecstasies as play’d,
  When earth was new, in Eden’s light and shade.
 
    But not in peaceful scenes alone
    Thy steps appear—thy power is known—        30
    Hark! the trump! its thrilling sound
      Echoes on every wind,
    And man awakes, for ages bound
      In leaden lethargy of mind:
    He wakes to life!—earth’s teeming plains        35
        Rejoice in his control;
    He wakes to strength! and bursts the chains
      Whose rust was in his soul:
  He wakes to liberty, and walks abroad
  All disenthrall’d: the image of his God.        40
 
      See, on the Andes’ fronts of snow
      The battle-fires of Freedom glow!
  Where triumph hails the children of the sun
  Beneath the banner of their Washington.
    Go on, victorious Bolivar!        45
    O! fail not, faint not, in the war
      Waged for the liberty of nations!
  Go on, resistless as the earthquake’s shock,
  When all your everlasting mountains rock
      Upon their deep foundations.        50
 
  And Greece! the golden clime of light and song,
    Where infant genius first awoke
      To arts and arms, and godlike story,
  Wept for her fallen sons in bondage long—
    She weeps no more—those sons have broke        55
    Their fetters—spurn the slavish yoke,
      And emulate their fathers’ glory.
    The crescent wanes before the car
    Of Liberty’s ascending star,
      And Freedom’s banners wave upon        60
      The ruins of the Parthenon;
    The clash of arms rings in the air,
      As erst it rung at Marathon.
    Let songs of triumph echo there:
    Be free, ye Greeks! or, failing, die        65
    In the last trench of liberty.
  Ye hail the name of Washington: pursue
  The path of glory he has mark’d for you.
  But should your recreant limbs submit once more
  To hug the soil your fathers ruled before        70
  Like gods on earth—if o’er their hallowed graves
  Again their craven sons shall creep as slaves,
  When shall another Byron sing and bleed
For you? O, when for you another Webster plead!
 
      Ye Christian kings and potentates,        75
    Whose sacrilegious leagues have twined
      Oppression’s links around your states,
    Say, do ye idly hope to bind
    The fearless heart and thinking mind?
  When ye can hush the tempest of the deep—        80
  Make the volcano in its cavern sleep,
  Or stop the hymning spheres, ye may control,
  With sceptred hand, the mighty march of soul.
 
    But what are ye? and whence your power
    Above the prostrate world to tower,        85
      And lord it all alone?
    What god, what fiend, has e’er decreed
    That one shall reign while millions bleed
      To prop the tyrant’s throne?
    Gaze on the ocean ye would sway:        90
    If, from his tranquil breast, the day
      Shine out in beams as bright and fair
      As if the heavens were resting there,
    Ye, in its mirror-surface, may
      See that ye are but men;        95
    But should the angry storm-winds pour
    Its chainless surges to the shore,
      Like Canute, ye may then
  A fearful lesson learn: ye ne’er would know
  The weakness of a tyrant’s power—how low        100
  His pride is brought, when, like that troubled sea,
Men rise in chainless might, determined to be free.
 
      And they will rise who lowly kneel,
      Crush’d by Oppression’s iron heel—
    They yet will rise—in such a change as sweeps        105
    The face of Nature, when the lightning leaps
      From the dark cloud of night;
    While Heaven’s eternal pillars reel afar,
    As o’er them rolls the Thunderer’s flaming car—
      And, in the majesty and might        110
    That freedom gives, my country, follow thee,
In thy career of strength and glorious liberty.
 
    Immortal Washington! to thee they pour
    A grateful tribute on thy natal hour,
    Who strike the lyre to Liberty, and twine        115
    Wreaths for her triumphs—for they all are thine—
    Woo’d by thy virtues to the haunts of men,
    From mountain precipice, and rugged glen,
  She bade thee vindicate the rights of man,
And in her peerless march ’twas thine to lead the van.        120
 
    Though no imperial mausoleum rise,
    To point the stranger where the hero lies,
    He sleeps in glory. To his humble tomb—
    The shrine of Freedom—pious pilgrims come
    To pay the heartfelt homage, and to share        125
    The sacred influence that reposes there.
  Say, ye blest spirits of the good and brave,
    Were tears of holier feeling ever shed
    On the proud marble of the regal dead,
  Than gush’d at Vernon’s rude and lonely grave,        130
When, from your starry thrones, ye saw the son
He loved and honour’d, weep for Washington.
 
      As fade the rainbow hues of day,
      Earth’s gorgeous pageants pass away:
    Its temples, arches, monuments, must fall;        135
    For Time’s oblivious hand is on them all.
      The proudest kings will end their toil
    To slumber with the humble dead:
      Earth’s conquerors mingle with the soil
    That groan’d beneath their iron tread,        140
  And all the trophies of their power and guilt
  Sink to oblivion with the blood they spilt.
  But still the everlasting voice of Fame
  Shall swell, in anthems, to the patriot’s name,
Who toil’d—who lived—to bless mankind, and hurl’d        145
        Oppression from the throne,
  Where long she sway’d, remorseless and alone,
    Her scorpion sceptre o’er a shrinking world.
  And though no sculptured marble guards his dust,
  Nor mouldering urn receives the hallow’d trust,        150
  For him a prouder mausoleum towers,
  That Time but strengthens with his storms and showers—
  The land he saved, the empire of the free—
Thy broad and steadfast throne, triumphant Liberty!
 
 
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