Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Triumphs of Liberty
By Ebenezer Bailey (1795–1839)
    SPIRIT 1 of freedom, hail!—
Whether thy steps are in the sunny vale,
  Where peace and happiness reside
  With innocence and thee, or glide
    To caverns deep and vestal fountains,        5
    ’Mid the stern solitude of mountains,
  Where airy voices still prolong
  From cliff to cliff thy jocund song,—
We woo thy presence: Thou wilt smile upon
The full heart’s tribute to thy favorite Son,        10
Who held communion with thee, and unfurl’d
In light thy sacred charter to the world.
    We feel thy influence, Power divine,
Whose angel smile can make the desert shine;
    For thou hast left thy mountain’s brow,        15
  And art with men no stranger now.
    Where’er thy joyous train is seen
  Disporting with the merry hours,
    Nature laughs out, in brighter green,
  And wreathes her brow with fairy flowers:        20
    Pleasure waves her rosy wand,—
    Plenty opens wide her hand,—
        On Rapture’s wings,
    To heaven the choral anthem springs,—
  And all around, above, below,        25
  Exult and mingle, as they glow,
In such harmonious ecstacies as play’d,
When earth was new, in Eden’s light and shade.
  But not in peaceful scenes alone
  Thy steps appear,—thy power is known.        30
    Hark!—the trump!—its thrilling sound
        Echoes on every wind,
    And man awakes, for ages bound
      In leaden lethargy of mind:
  He wakes to life!—earth’s teeming plains        35
        Rejoice in his control;
  He wakes to strength!—and bursts the chains
        Whose rust was in his soul;
He wakes to liberty!—and walks abroad
All disenthrall’d, the image of his God.        40
    See, on the Andes’ fronts of snow
    The battle-fires of Freedom glow,
  Where triumph hails the children of the sun,
  Beneath the banner of their Washington.
    Go on, victorious Bolivar!        45
    Oh! fail not—faint not—in the war
        Waged for the liberty of nations!
  Go on, resistless as the earthquake’s shock,
  When all your everlasting mountains rock
        Upon their deep foundations.        50
  And Greece,—the golden clime of light and song,
    Where infant genius first awoke
      To arts and arms and godlike story,—
  Wept for her fallen sons in bondage long:
    She weeps no more;—Those sons have broke        55
    Their fetters,—spurn the slavish yoke,
      And emulate their fathers’ glory.
    The Crescent wanes before the car
    Of liberty’s ascending Star,
      And Freedom’s banners wave upon        60
      The ruins of the Parthenon.
    The clash of arms rings in the air,
      As erst it rung at Marathon;—
    Let songs of triumph echo there!
    Be free! ye Greeks, or, failing, die        65
    In the last trench of liberty.
  Ye hail the name of Washington; pursue
  The path of glory he has mark’d for you.
  But should your recreant limbs submit once more
  To hug the soil your fathers ruled before        70
  Like gods on earth,—if o’er their hallow’d graves
  Again their craven sons shall creep as slaves,
  When shall another Byron sing and bleed
For you!—oh, when for you another Webster plead!
      Ye christian kings and potentates,        75
    Whose sacrilegious leagues have twined
      Oppression’s links around your States,
    Say, do ye idly hope to bind
    The fearless heart and thinking mind?
  When ye can hush the tempest of the deep,        80
  Make the volcano in its cavern sleep,
  Or stop the hymning spheres, ye may control,
  With sceptred hand, the mighty march of soul.
    But what are ye? and whence your power
    Above the prostrate world to tower,        85
      And lord it all alone?
    What god—what fiend—has e’er decreed,
    That one shall reign, while millions bleed
      To prop the tyrant’s throne?
    Gaze on the ocean, ye would sway:—        90
    If from its tranquil breast, the day
      Shine out in beams as bright and fair
      As if the heavens were resting there,
    Ye, in its mirror surface, may
      See that ye are but men;        95
    But should the angry storm-winds pour
    Its chainless surges to the shore,
      Like Canute, ye may then
  A fearful lesson learn, ye ne’er would know,—
  The weakness of a tyrant’s power,—how low        100
  His pride is brought, when, like that troubled sea,
Men rise in chainless might, determined to be free.
      And they will rise who lowly kneel,
      Crush’d by oppression’s iron heel,
    They yet will rise,—in such a change as sweeps        105
    The face of nature, when the lightning leaps
          From the dark cloud of night,
    While heaven’s eternal pillars reel afar,
    As o’er them rolls the Thunderer’s flaming car,—
      And in the majesty and might        110
    That freedom gives, my country, follow thee,
  In thy career of strength and glorious liberty.
    Immortal Washington! to thee they pour
    A grateful tribute on thy natal hour,
    Who strike the lyre to liberty, and twine        115
    Wreathes for her triumphs,—for they all are thine,
    Woo’d by thy virtues to the haunts of men,
    From mountain precipice and rugged glen,
      She bade thee vindicate the rights of man,
And in her peerless march, ’t was thine to lead the van.        120
    Though no imperial Mausoleum rise,
    To point the stranger where the hero lies,
    He sleeps in glory. To his humble tomb,—
    The shrine of freedom,—pious pilgrims come,
    To pay the heart-felt homage, and to share        125
    The sacred influence that reposes there.
      Say, ye blest spirits of the good and brave,
    Were tears of holier feeling ever shed
    On the proud marble of the regal dead,
      Than gush’d at Vernon’s rude and lonely grave,        130
  When from your starry thrones, ye saw the Son
  He loved and honor’d, weep for Washington!
    As fade the rainbow hues of day,
    Earth’s gorgeous pageants pass away:
  Its temples, arches, monuments, must fall;        135
  For Time’s oblivious hand is on them all.
      The proudest kings will end their toil,
    To slumber with the humble dead,—
      Earth’s conquerors mingle with the soil,
    That groan’d beneath their iron tread,        140
  And all the trophies of their power and guilt,
  Sink to oblivion with the blood they spilt.
  But still the everlasting voice of fame
  Shall swell, in anthems to the Patriot’s name,
    Who toil’d—who lived—to bless mankind, and hurl’d        145
          Oppression from the throne,
      Where long she sway’d, remorseless and alone,
    Her scorpion sceptre o’er a shrinking world.
  And though no sculptured marble guards his dust,
  Nor mouldering urn receives the hallow’d trust,        150
  For him a prouder mausoleum towers,
  That Time but strengthens with his storms and showers,—
  The land he saved, the empire of the Free,
Thy broad and steadfast throne, TRIUMPHANT LIBERTY!
Note 1. Bailey is a native of Newbury in Massachusetts, and was graduated at Yale College in 1817. He is now Principal of the Young Ladies’ High School in Boston. His prize ode, recited at the Boston Theatre in 1825, is the only performance by which he is known to the public as a poet. He has, however, produced a great number of poetical effusions of high merit, which have obtained anonymously a wide circulation in our various repositories of fugitive verse. If Mr Bailey had written with a view to distinction, he might at this moment have been one of the most popular and esteemed poets of our country. The Triumphs of Liberty is a chaste and spirited production, superior to anything of the kind which our national anniversaries have called forth. His lighter pieces are thrown off with an ease and playfulness of fancy that we do not often see equalled in the hasty rhymes of a leisure moment. [back]

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