Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Stanzas to the Memory of General Washington
By Philip Freneau (1752–1832)
 
Who died December 14, 1799

Terra tegit, populus mœret, cœlum, habet!

  DEPARTING with the closing age,
To virtue, worth, and freedom true,
  The chief, the patriot, and the sage
To Vernon bids his last adieu:
  To reap in some exalted sphere        5
  The just rewards of virtue here.
 
  Thou, Washington, by Heaven design’d
To act a part in human things
  That few have known among mankind,
And far beyond the task of kings;        10
  We hail you now to Heaven received
  Your mighty task on earth achieved.
 
  While sculpture and her sister arts
For thee their choicest wreaths prepare,
  Fond Gratitude her share imparts,        15
And begs thy bones for burial there;
  Where, near Virginia’s northern bound,
  Swells the vast pile on federal ground.
 
  To call from their obscure abodes
The Grecian chief, the Roman sage,        20
  The kings, the heroes, and the gods
Who flourish’d in Time’s earlier age,
  Would be to class them not with you:
  Superior far, in every view.
 
  Those ancients of ferocious mould,        25
Blood their delight, and war their trade,
  Their oaths profaned, their countries sold,
And fetter’d nations prostrate laid;
  Could these, like you, assert their claim
  To honour and immortal fame?        30
 
  Those monarchs, proud of pillaged spoils,
With nations shackled in their train,
  Returning from their desperate toils
With trophies, and their thousands slain;
  In all they did no traits are known        35
  Like those that honour’d Washington.
 
  Who now will save our shores from harms,
The task to him so long assign’d?
  Who now will rouse our youth to arms,
Should war approach to curse mankind?        40
  Alas! no more the word you give,
  But in your precepts you survive.
 
  Ah, gone! and none your place supply,
Nor will your equal soon appear;
  But that great name can only die        45
When Memory dwells no longer here:
  When man, and all his systems, must
  Dissolve, like you, and turn to dust.
 
 
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