Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
Address to Washington
By William Livingston (1723–1790)
By Gov. Livingston, of New Jersey

SAY, on what hallow’d altar shall I find
A sacred spark that can again light up
The muse’s ardour in my wane of life,
And warm my bosom with poetic fire,
Extinguish’d long—and yet, O Washington,        5
Thy worth unequall’d, thy heroic deeds,
Thy patriot virtues, and high-soaring fame,
Prompt, irresistibly, my feeble arm,
To grasp the long-forgotten lyre, and join
The universal chorus of thy praise.        10
  When urged by thirst of arbitrary sway
And overweening pride, a ruthless king
Grim, spurn’d us, suppliants from his haughty throne,
And, in the tyrant, all the father lost—
When, to our prayers with humble duty urged,        15
He, Pharaoh-like, his heart obdurate steel’d,
Denouncing dreadful vengeance, unprovoked,
And all the dire calamities of war,
No ray of mercy beaming from his brow,
No olive-branch extended in his hand—        20
A sword unsheathed, or ignominous yoke,
The only sad alternative proposed:
Then, with one voice, thy country call’d thee forth—
Thee, Washington, she call’d—with modest blush,
But, soul undaunted, thou the call obey’dst        25
To lead her armies to the martial field.
Thee, Washington, she call’d to draw the sword,
And rather try the bloody chance of war
In virtue’s cause, than suffer servile chains—
Intolerable bondage!—to enclose        30
The limbs of those whom God created free.
  Lured by thy fame, with thy great virtues charm’d,
And by thy valour fired, around thee pour’d
America’s long-injured sons, resolved
To meet the veteran troops who oft had borne        35
Britannia’s name, in thunder, round the world.
  With warrior bands, by Liberty impell’d,
And all their country glowing at their heart,
And prodigal of blood, when she required,
Though destitute of war’s essential aids,        40
(The well-stored armoury, the nitrous grain,
The roaring cannon, and death-bearing ball,)
Thou madest the solemn, dread appeal to Heaven—
The solemn, dread appeal the Almighty heard,
And smiled success. Unfabled Astrea weigh’d        45
Our cause in her eternal scales, and found
It just: while all-directing Providence,
Invisible, yet seen, mysterious, crown’d,
And more than crown’d our hopes; and, strange to tell!
Made British infidels, like Lucifer,        50
Believe and tremble. Thou, with troops new raised,
Undisciplined—nor to the tented field
Inured, hast kept the hostile host aloof,
And oft discomfited: while Victory
The laurel wreath around thy temples twined:        55
And Trenton, Princeton, prove thy bold emprize;
Names then unknown to song, illustrious now,
Deriving immortality from thee.
  Proceed, heaven-guided chief, nor be dismay’d
At foreign myriads, or domestic foes;        60
(The best have foes, and foes evince their worth;)
Soon, by one danger roused, one soul inspired,
One cause defending, on one goal intent,
From every quarter whence the winds can blow,
Assembled hosts their hero shall attend,        65
Determin’d to be free. Them shalt thou lead—
To conquest lead, and make the tyrant rue
His execrable purpose to enslave,
And teach e’en British folly to be wise.
  Far as the encircling sun his chariot drives,        70
Thy fame shall spread: thy grateful country own
Her millions, saved by thy victorious arm,
And rear eternal monuments of praise.
  The arduous task absolved—the truncheon broke
Of future glory, liberty, and peace,        75
The strong foundations laid, methinks I see
The godlike hero gracefully retire,
And (blood-stained Mars for fair Pomona changed)
His rural seat regain. His rural seat,
At his long-wish’d return, fresh-blooming smiles,        80
And, in expressive silence, speaks her joy.
There, recollecting oft thy past exploits,
(Feast of the soul, ne’er cloying appetite,)
And, still assiduous for the public weal,
Incumbent duty ne’er effaced—amidst        85
Sequester’d haunts; and, in the calm of life
Methinks I see thee, Solon-like, design
The future grandeur of confederate states
High-towering; or, for legislation met,
Adjust in senate what thou savedst in war.        90
And when, by thousands wept, thou shalt resign
Thy sky-infused, and sky-returning spark,
May light supernal gild the mortal hour,
But mortal to translate thee into life
That knows not death. Then heaven’s all-ruling Sire        95
Shall introduce thee to thy glad compeers,
The Hampdens, Sidneys, Freedom’s genuine sons!
And Brutus’ venerable shade, high raised
On thrones erected in the taste of Heaven,
Distinguish’d thrones for patriot demigods,        100
(Who, for their country’s weal, or toil’d or bled,)
And one reserved for thee: there envy’s shafts
Nor tyrants e’er intrude—nor slavery clanks
  Her galling chain; but star-crowned Liberty,—
Resplendent goddess!—everlasting reigns.        105

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