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War And Peace—A Poem

Felicia Dorothea Hemans 1793 (Liverpool, Lancashire) – 1835 (Dublin, County Dublin)



THOU, bright Futurity! whose prospect beams,
In dawning radiance on our day-light dreams;
Whose lambent meteors and ethereal forms
Gild the dark clouds, and glitter thro' the storms;
On thy broad canvas fancy loves to trace,
Her brilliant Iris, drest in vivid grace;
Paints fair creations in celestial dyes,
Tints of the morn and blushes of the skies;
And bids her scenes perfection's robe assume,
The mingling flush of light, and life, and bloom.
Thou bright Futurity! whose morning-star
Still beams unveil'd, unclouded, from afar;
Whose lovely vista smiling Hope surveys,
Thro' the dim twilight of the silvery haze;

Oh! let the muse expand her wing on high,
Thy shadowy realms, thy worlds unknown descry;
Let her clear eye-beam, flashing lucid light,
Chase from thy forms th' involving shades of night;
Pierce the dark clouds that veil thy noontide rays,
And soar, exulting, in meridian blaze!
In bliss, in grief, thy radiant scenes bestow,
The zest of rapture, or the balm of woe!
For, as the sun-flower to her idol turns,
Glows in his noon, and kindles as he burns;
Expands her bosom to th' exalting fire,
Lives but to gaze, and gazes to admire;
E'en so to thee, the mind incessant flies,
From thy pure source the fount of joy supplies;
And steals from thee the sunny light that throws
A brighter blush on pleasure's living rose!
To thee pale sorrow turns her eye of tears,
Lifts the dim curtain of unmeasur'd years;
And hails thy promis'd land, th' Elysian shore,
Where weeping virtue shall bewail no more!

Now, while the sounds of martial wrath assail,
While the red banner floats upon the gale;
While dark destruction, with his legion-bands,
Waves the bright sabre o'er devoted lands;
While war's dread comet flashes thro' the air,
And fainting nations tremble at the glare;
To thee, Futurity! from scenes like these,
Pale fancy turns, for heav'n-imparted ease;
Turns to behold, in thy unclouded skies,
The orb of peace in bright perspective rise;
And pour around, with joy-diffusing ray,
Life, light, and glory, in a flood of day!

Thou, whose lov'd presence and benignant smile
Has beam'd effulgence on this favour'd isle;
Thou! the fair seraph, in immortal state,
Thron'd on the rainbow, heaven's emblazon'd gate;
Thou! whose mild whispers in the summer-breeze
Control the storm, and undulate the seas;

Spirit of mercy! oh! return, to bring
Palm in thy wreath, and 'healing on thy wing!'
Compose each passion to th' eternal will,
Say to the hurricane of war,— 'Be still!'
'Vengeance, expire! thy reign, ambition, cease!
Beam, light of heaven! triumphant star of peace!'

Is this the muse's wild, illusive dream,
An airy picture, an ideal theme?
Shall death still ride victorious o'er the slain,
And his 'pale charges' desolate the plain?
Ne'er shall revenge her vulture-pinion fold,
Close her dark eye, her lightning-arm withhold?'

Still must oppression cause th' eternal strife,
And breathe dire mildew o'er the blooms of life?
Must war still ravage with his car of fire,
And victim myriads in the blaze expire?

Supernal Pow'r! on suffering earth look down,
Tyrannic might shall perish in thy frown!

Oh! deign to speed that blest, appointed time,
When peace and faith shall smile on ev'ry clime!
But first in clouds, the dark, eventful day
Of wrath, avenging wrath! must roll away!
Thy sword, oh, Justice! o'er the world must wave,
Ere mercy dawn, to triumph and to save!

Shades of the prophet-bards! majestic train,
Who seiz'd the harp from Inspiration's fane,
And, fir'd, and guided by divine control,
Woke ev'ry chord to rapture and to soul!
Shades of the prophet-bards! in days of old,
Whose gifted hands the leaf of fate unroll'd;
Whose prescient eyes, undimm'd by age or tears,
Explor'd the avenue of distant years;
Did those blest eyes th' enchanted scene survey,
Of smiling concord's universal sway?
And did your hearts with joy exulting burn,
To see her Paradise on earth return?

Yes! hallow'd seers! to you the bliss was given,
To read, unveil'd, the dread decrees of heaven!
You saw th' oppressor's might in judgment hurl'd,
A storm of vengeance on the guilty world!
Beheld his throne revers'd, his empire past,
And peace and joy descend, serene, at last!

So when impetuous winds forget to rave,
And sun-set radiance trembles o'er the wave;
Sweet Eve, advancing o'er the summer-deep,
Charms every billow, ev'ry breeze, to sleep!

Dawn, age of bliss! but e'er thy morn shall rise,
And waft a train of cherubs from
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:56 min read
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Felicia Dorothea Hemans

Felicia Dorothea Hemans was an English poet. Two of her opening lines, "The boy stood on the burning deck" and "The stately homes of England", have acquired classic status. more…

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