Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
Epistle: ‘While many a servile muse her succour lends’
To his excellency George Washington, Esq.—1786

                  ———Honest praise
          Oft nobly sways
          Ingenuous youth:
But from the coward and the lying mouth
Praise is reproach. Eternal God alone
For mortals fixes that sublime award
He, from the faithful records of his throne,
Bids the historian and the bard
Dispose of honour and of scorn;
Discern the patriot from the slave;
And write the good, the wise, the brave,
For lessons to the multitude unborn.

  WHILE many a servile muse her succour lends,
To flatter tyrants or a tyrant’s friends,
While thousands, slaughter’d at ambition’s shrine,
Are made a plea to court the tuneful nine;
Whilst laureats lift their heroes to the sky,        5
Foretel their conquests twice a year, and lie,
Damn half-starved rebels to eternal shame,
Or paint them trembling at Britannia’s name;
Permit an humble bard, great chief, to raise
One truth-erected trophy to thy praise:        10
No flattering colours shall these numbers seek,
To tinge with blushes Virtue’s modest cheek:
Call forth to view no great or generous deed,
But foes must own and Washington may read.
Say, where along yon venerable wood,        15
My native stream, swells thy Potowmak’s flood,
Shall my untutor’d muse begin the song,
Which future bards in rapture shall prolong:
Or there my little bark presume to sail,
Fann’d by fair liberty’s inspiring gale?        20
Fair liberty, of man the noblest claim!
Great source of bliss! kind nurse of arts and fame!
She, wrong’d and exiled from yon eastern climes,
Perhaps may deign to listen to these rhymes;
And in these regions, pleased to find relief,        25
May bear them smiling to her favourite chief:
Illustrious chief! whom with one common voice
An injured people chose, and heaven approved their choice.
  Forth from the bosom of thy calm retreat,
At once the hero’s and the sage’s seat,        30
Where bounteous nature spreads her choicest gifts,
Of woods and lawns along thy native cliffs;
Where, with the graces, wisdom chose to roam,
Where sweet simplicity had fix’d her home,
Where wedded love display’d his mildest ray,        35
To gild each rising and each setting day,
And with a smile could smooth the brow of care,
Save when thy country’s cries alarm’d thy ear.
Great Freedom call’d thee to the glorious strife:
The tranquil scenes of sweet domestic life        40
Delight no more: “To arms! to arms!” she cries;
“To arms: to arms!” each sister state replies.
“Be thou great guardian of thy country’s cause,”
She said, and hosts of heroes shout applause,
Thus, when of old, from his paternal farm,        45
Rome bade her rigid Cincinnatus arm,
Th’ illustrious peasant rushes to the field;
Soon are the haughty Volsci taught to yield:
His country saved, the solemn triumph o’er,
He tills his native acres as before.        50
Hail, happy man! crown’d with immortal bays,
Before whose glory sink the dwindled rays
Of royal pageantry! thy generous heart,
To freedom’s sons shall still its warmth impart,
Teach them their native dignity to scan,        55
And scorn the wretch who spurns his fellow-man:
And when in eastern climes, midst lawless sway,
Thy fame shall sink, and freedom’s wreaths decay,
These infant states shall catch the god-like flame,
And tyrants still shall shudder at thy name;        60
Then nobly dare, Columbia, to be free,
And what the Roman was, thy Washington shall be.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.