Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
Ode Sung at the Anniversary of the Faustus Association
By Robert Treat Paine (1773–1811)
ON the tent-plains of Shinah, truth’s mystical clime,
  When the impious turret of Babel was shatter’d,
Lest the tracks of our race, in the sand-rift of time,
  Should be buried, when Shem, Ham and Japheth were scattered,
          Rose the genius of art,        5
          Man to man to impart,
By a language, that speaks, through the eye, to the heart.
Yet rude was invention, when art she reveal’d,
For a block stamp’d the page, and a tree plough’d the field.
As time swept his pennons, art sigh’d, as she view’d        10
  How dim was the image, her emblem reflected;
When, inspired, father Faust broke her table of wood,
  Wrought its parts into shape, and the whole reconnected,
          Art with mind now could rove,
          For her symbols could move,        15
Ever casting new shades, like the leaves of a grove.
And the colors of thought in their elements run,
As the prismatic glass shows the hues of the sun.
In the morn of the west, as the light roll’d away
  From the grey eve of regions, by bigotry clouded,        20
With the dawn woke our Franklin, and, glancing the day,
  Turn’d its beams through the mist, with which art was enshrouded;
          To kindle her shrine,
          His Promethean line
Drew a spark from the clouds, and made printing divine!        25
When the fire by his rod was attracted from heaven,
Its flash by the type, his conductor, was given.
Ancient wisdom may boast of the spice and the weed,
  Which embalm’d the cold form of its heroes and sages;
But their fame lives alone on the leaf of the reed,        30
  Which has grown through the clefts in the ruins of ages;
          Could they rise, they would shed,
          Like Cicero’s head,
Tears of blood on the spot, where the world they had led.
Of Pompey and Cæsar unknown is the tomb,
  But the type is their forum, the page is their Rome.
Blest genius of type! down the vista of time
  As thy flight leaves behind thee this vex’d generation,
Oh! transmit on thy scroll, this bequest from our clime,
  The press can cement, or dismember a nation.        40
          Be thy temple the mind!
          There, like Vesta, enshrined,
Watch and foster the flame, which inspires human kind!
Preserving all arts, may all arts cherish thee;
And thy science and virtue teach man to be free!        45

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