Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
By William Ray (1771–1826)
  YE lurid domes! whose tottering columns stand,
Marks of the despot’s desolating hand:
Whose weed-grown roofs and mouldering arches show
The curse of tyranny, a nation’s wo;
In every ruin—every pile I find        5
A warning lesson to a thoughtful mind.
Your gloomy cells expressive silence break,
Echo to groans, and eloquently speak;
“The Christian’s blood cements the stones he rears;
This clay was moisten’d with a Christian’s tears;        10
Pale as these walls, a prisoner oft has lain,
Felt the keen scourge and worn the ruthless chain;
While scoffing foes increasing tortures pour,
Till the poor victim feels, alas! no more!”
Here thy brave tars, America, are found        15
Lock’d in foul prisons and in fetters bound.
Heavens! what sad times! must free Columbians bow
Before yon tinsel tyrant’s murky brow?
Cringe to a power which death and rapine crown?
Smile at a smile, and tremble at a frown?        20
Kneel at a throne, its clemency implore,
Enrich’d by spoils, and stain’d with human gore?
Bear the sharp lash, the ponderous load sustain,
Suppress their anger, and revenge restrain?
Leave a free clime, explore the treacherous waves,        25
The sport of miscreants and the slave of slaves?
Heavens! at the sight each patriot bosom glows
With virtuous hatred on its country’s foes;
At every blow indignant passions rise,
And vengeance flashes from resentful eyes.        30
But heaven is just, though man’s bewilder’d mind
To the dark ways of providence is blind;
Else why are some ordain’d above the rest,
Or villains treated better than the best?
Why, martyr’d virtue, hang thy injured head?        35
Why lived an Arnold, while a Warren bled?
Earth’s murderers triumph, proud oppressors reign,
While patriots bleed, and captives sigh in vain?
Yet slumbering justice soon shall wake and show
Her sword, unsheath’d, and vengeance wing the blow:        40
Columbia’s genius, glorious as the sun,
With thy blest shade, immortal Washington!
Unite to guard us from nefarious foes,
And heaven defend, and angels interpose,
Devoted tyrants cause just wrath to feel,        45
Make Beys and Bashaws in submission kneel;
Man’s equal right, sweet liberty, restore,
And despotism crush, to rise no more.

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