Mary Robinson ( )

Ainsi Va le Monde

[As a Tribute of Esteem and Admiration this Poem is inscribed to ROBERT MERRY, Esq. A. M. Member of the Royal Academy at Florence, and Author of the Laurel of Liberty, and the Della Crusca Poems.]

O THOU, to whom superior worths allied,
Thy Countrys honourand the MUSES pride;
Whose pen gives polish to the varying line
That blends instruction with the song divine;
Whose fancy, glancing oer the hostile plain,
Plants a fond trophy oer the mighty slain; I 
Or to the daisied lawn directs its way,
Blithe as the songstress of returning day;
Who deignd to rove where twinkling glow-worms lead
The tiny legions oer the glittring mead;
Whose liquid notes in sweet meandrings flow,
Mild as the murmurs of the Bird of Woe;
Who gave to Sympathy its softest powr,
The charm to wing Afflictions sable hour;
Who in Italias groves, with thrilling song,
Calld mute attention from the minstrel throng;
Gave proud distinction to the Poets name,
And claimd, by modest worth, the wreath of fame 
Accept the Verse thy magic harp inspires, 
Nor scorn the Muse that kindles at its fires. 

O, justly gifted with the Sacred Lyre, 
Whose sounds can more than mortal thoughts inspire, 
Whether its strings HEROIC measures move, 
Or lyric numbers charm the soul to love; 
Whether thy fancy pours the varying verse 
In bowrs of bliss, or oer the plumed hearse; 
Whether of patriot zeal, or pastral sports, 
The peace of hamlets, or the pride of courts: 
Still Nature glows in evry classic line 
Still Genius dictatesstill the verse is thine. 

Too long the Muse, in ancient garb arrayd, 
Has pind neglected in oblivions shade; 
Drivn from the sun-shine of poetic fame, 
Strippd of each charm she scarcely boasts a name: 
Her voice no more can please the vapid throng, 
No more loud Paeans consecrate her song, 
Cold, faint, and sullen, to the grove she flies, 
A faded garland veils her radiant eyes: 
A withring laurel on her breast she wears, 
Fannd by her sighs, and spangled with her tears; 
From her each fond associate early fled, 
She mournd a MILTON lost, a SHAKSPERE dead: 
Her eye beheld a CHATTERTON oppressd, 
A famishd OTWAYravishd from her breast; 
Now in their place a fluttring form appears, 
Mocks her falln powr, and triumphs in her tears: 
A flippant, senseless, aery thing, whose eye 
Glares wanton mirth, and fulsome ribaldry. 

While motley mummry holds her tinsel reign, 
SHAKSPERE might write, and GARRICK act in vain: 
True Wit recedes, when blushing Reason views 
This spurious offspring of the banishd Muse. 

The task be thine to check the daring hand 
That leads fantastic folly oer the land; 
The task be thine with witching spells to bind 
The feathry shadows of the fickle mind; 
To strew with deathless flowrs the dreary waste; 
To pluck the weeds of vitiated taste; 
To cheer with smiles the Muses glorious toil, 
And plant perfection on her native soil:
The Arts, that thro dark centuries have pind, 
Toild without fame, in sordid chains confind, 
Burst into light with renovated fire, 
Bid Envy shrink, and Ignorance expire. 
No more prim KNELLERS simpring beauties vie, 
Or LELYS genius droops with languid eye: 
No more prepostrous figures pain the view, 
Aliens to Nature, yet to Fancy true, 
The wild chimeras of capricious thought, 
Deformd in fashion, and with errors fraught; 
The gothic phantoms sickning fade away, 
And native Genius rushes into day. 

REYNOLDS, tis thine with magic skill to trace 
The perfect semblance of exterior grace; 
Thy hand, by Nature guided, marks the line 
That stamps perfection on the form divine. 
Tis thine to tint the lip with rosy die, 
To paint the softness of the melting eye; 
With auburn curls luxuriantly displayd, 
The ivory shoulders polishd fall to shade; 
To deck the well-turnd arm with matchless grace, 
To mark the dimpled smile on Beautys face: 
The task is thine, with cunning hand to throw 
The veil transparent on the breast of snow: 
The Statesmans thought, the Infants cherub mien, 
The Poets fire, the Matrons eye serene, 
Alike with animated lustre shine 
Beneath thy polishd pencils touch divine. 
As BRITAINS Genius glories in thy Art, 
Adores thy virtues, and reveres thy heart, 
Nations unborn shall celebrate thy name, 
And waft thy memry on the wings of Fame. 

Oft when the mind, with sickning pangs oppressd,
Flies to the Muse, and courts the balm of rest,
When Reason, sated with lifes weary woes,
Turns to itself and finds a blest repose,
A genrous pride that scorns each petty art,
That feels no envy rankling in the heart,
No mean deceit that wings its shaft at Fame,
Or gives to pamperd Vice a pompous Name;
Then, calm reflection shuns the sordid crowd,
The senseless chaos of the little proud,
Then, indignation stealing through the breast,
Spurns the pert tribe in flimsy greatness drest;
Who, to their native nothingness consignd,
Sink in contemptnor leave a trace behind.
Then Fancy paints, in visionary gloom,
The sainted shadows of the laureld tomb, 
The Star of Virtue glistning on each breast, 
Divine insignia of the spirit blest! 
Then MILTON smiles serene, a beauteous shade, 
In worth augustin lustrous fires arrayd. 
Immortal SHAKSPERE gleams across the sight, 
Robd in ethereal vest of radiant light. 
Wingd Ages picture to the dazzled view 
Each markd perfectionof the sacred few, 
POPE, DRYDEN, SPENSER, all that Fame shall raise, 
From CHAUCERS gloomtill MERRYS lucid days: 
Then emulation kindles fancys fire, 
The glorious throng poetic flights inspire; 
Each sensate bosom feels the god-like flame, 
The cherishd harbinger of future fame. 
Yet timid genius, oft in conscious ease, 
Steals from the world, content the few to please: 
Obscurd in shades, the modest Muse retires, 
While sparkling vapours emulate her fires. 
The proud enthusiast shuns promiscuous praise, 
The Idiots smile condemns the Poets lays. 
Perfection wisely courts the libral few, 
The voice of kindred genius must be true. 
But empty witlings sate the public eye 
With puny jest and low buffoonery, 
The buzzing hornets swarm about the great, 
The poor appendages of pamperd state; 
The trifling, fluttring insects of a day, 
Flit near the sun, and glitter in its ray; 
Whose subtle fires with charms magnetic burn, 
Where every servile fool may have his turn. 
Lulld in the lap of indolence, they boast 
Who best can fawnand who can flatter most; 
While with a cunning arrogance they blend 
Sound without senseand wit that stabs a friend; 
Slanders obliquethat check ambitions toil, 
The poisnous weeds, that mark the barren soil. 
So the sweet blossoms of salubrious spring 
Thro the lone wood their spicy odours fling; 
Shrink from the sun, and bow their beauteous heads 
To scatter incense oer their native beds, 
While coarser flowrs expand with gaudy ray, 
Brave the rude wind, and mock the burning day. 

Ah! gentle Muse, from trivial follies turn, 
Where Patriot souls with god-like passions burn; 
Again to MERRY dedicate the line, 
So shall the envied boast of taste be thine; 
So shall thy song to glorious themes aspire, 
Warmd with a spark of his transcendent fire. 

Thro all the scenes of Natures varying plan, 
Celestial Freedom warms the breast of man; 
Led by her daring hand, what powr can bind 
The boundless efforts of the labring mind. 
The god-like fervour, thrilling thro the heart, 
Gives new creation to each vital part; 
Throbs rapture thro each palpitating vein, 
Wings the rapt thought, and warms the fertile brain; 
To her the noblest attributes of Heavn, 
Ambition, valour, eloquence, are givn. 
She binds the soldiers brow with wreaths sublime, 
From her, expanding reason learns to climb,
To her the sounds of melody belong, 
She wakes the raptures of the Poets song; 
Tis god-like Freedom bids each passion live, 
That truth may boast, or patriot virtue give; 
From her, the Arts enlightend splendours own, 
She guides the peasantShe adorns the throne; 
To mild Philanthropy extends her hand, 
Gives Truth pre-eminence, and Worth command; 
Her eye directs the path that leads to Fame, 
Lights Valours torch, and trims the glorious flame; 
She scatters joy oer Natures endless scope, 
Gives strength to Reasonextacy to Hope; 
Tempers each pang Humanity can feel, 
And binds presumptuous Power with nerves of steel; 
Strangles each tyrant Phantom in its birth, 
And knows no titlebut SUPERIOR WORTH. 

Enlightend Gallia! what were all your toys, 
Your dazzling splendoursyour voluptuous joys ? 
What were your glittring villaslofty towrs, 
Your perfumd chambers, and your painted bowrs ?
Did not insidious Art those gifts bestow, 
To cheat the prying eyewith tinsel show ?
Yes; luxury diffusd her spells to bind 
The deep researches of the restless mind ? 
To lull the active soul with witching wiles, 
To hide pale Slavry in a mask of smiles: 
The towring wings of reason to restrain, 
And lead the victim in a flowry chain: 
Cold Superstition favourd the deceit, 
And een Religion lent her aid to cheat, 
When warlike LOUIS, I arrogant and vain, 
Whom worth could never hold, or fear restrain; 
The souls last refuge, in repentance sought,
An artful MAINTENON absolvd each fault;
She who had led his worldly steps astray,
Now, smoothd his passage to the realms of day!
O, monstrous hypocrite!who vainly strove
By pious fraud, to win a peoples love;
Whose coffers groand with reliques from the proud,
The pompous offrings of the venal crowd,
The messy hecatombs of dire disgrace,
To purchase titles, or secure a place.
And yetso sacred was the matrons fame,
Nor truth, nor virtue, dard assail her name;
None could approach but with obsequious breath,
To smile was TREASONand to speak was DEATH.
In meek and humble garb, she veild command,
While helpless millions shrunk beneath her hand.
And when Ambitions idle dream was oer,
And art could blind, and beauty charm no more;
She, whose luxurious bosom spurnd restraint,
Who livd the slave of passiondied a saint ! I 

What were the feelings of the hapless throng, 
By threats insulted, and oppressd with wrong ?
While grasping avarice, with skill profound, 
Spread her fell snares, and dealt destruction round; 
Each rising sun some new infringement saw, 
While pride was consequenceand powr was law; 
A peoples suffrings hopd redress in vain, 
Subjection curbd the tongue that dard complain. 
Imputed guilt each virtuous victim led 
Where all the fiends their direst mischiefs spread; 
Where, thro long ages past, with watchful care, 
THY TYRANTS, GALLIA, nursd the witch DESPAIR. 
Where in her black BASTILE the harpy fed 
On the warm crimson drops, her fangs had shed; 
Where recreant malice mockd the suffrers sigh, 
While regal lightnings darted from her eye. 
Where deep mysterious whispers murmurd round, 
And death stalkd sullen oer the treachrous ground. 
O DAYtranscendent on the page of Fame ! 
When from her Heavn, insulted Freedom came; 
Glancing oer earths wide space, her beaming eye 
Markd the dread scene of impious slavery, 
Warmd by her breath, the vanquishd, trembling race, 
Wake from the torpid slumber of disgrace.; 
Rousd by oppression, Man his birth-right claims, 
Oer the proud battlements red vengeance flames; 
Exulting thunders rend the turbid skies; 
In sulphrous clouds the gorgeous ruin lies! 
The angel, PITY, now each cave explores, 
Braves the chill damps, and fells the pondrous doors, 
Plucks from the flinty walls the clanking chains, 
Where many a dreadful tale of woe remains, 
Where many a sad memorial marks the hour, 
That gave the rights of man to ravnous powr; 
Now snatchd from death, the wondring wretch shall prove 
The raptrous energies of social love; 
Whose limbs each faculty deniedwhose sight 
Had long resignd all intercourse with light; 
Whose wasted form the humid earth receivd, 
Who numbd with anguishscarcely felt he livd; 
Who when the midnight bell assaild his ears, 
From fevrish slumbers woketo drink his tears: 
While slow-consuming grief each sense enthralld, 
Till Hope expird, and Valour shrunkappalld: 
Where veild suspicion lurkd in shrewd disguise, 
While eager vengeance opd her thousand eyes; 
While the hird slave, the fiend of wrath, designd 
To lash, with scorpion scourges, human-kind 
Draggd with ingenious pangs, the tardy hour, 
To feed the rancour of insatiate Powr. 

Blest be the favord delegates of Heavn, 
To whose illustrious souls the task was givn 
To wrench the bolts of tyrannyand dare 
The petrifying confines of despair; 
With Heavns own breeze to cheer the gasping breath, 
And spread broad sun-shine in the caves of death. 

What is the charm that bids mankind disdain 
The Tyrants mandate, and th Oppressors chain; 
What bids exulting Liberty impart 
Extatic raptures to the Human Heart; 
Calls forth each hidden spark of glorious fire, 
Bids untaught minds to valiant feats aspire; 
What gives to Freedom its supreme delight ? 
Tis Emulation, Instinct, Nature, Right. 

When this revolving Orbs first course began, 
Heavn stampd divine pre-eminence on man; 
To him it gave the intellectual mind, 
Persuasive Eloquence and Truth refind; 
Humanity to harmonize his sway, 
And calm Religion to direct his way; 
Courage to tempt Ambitions lofty flight, 
And Conscience to illume his erring sight. 
Who shall the natral Rights of Man deride, 
When Freedom spreads her fostring banners wide ? 
Who shall contemn the heavn-taught zeal that throws 
The balm of comfort on a Nations woes ? 
That tears the veil from superstitions eye, 
Bids despots tremble, scourgd oppression die ? 
Wrests hidden treasure from the sordid hand, 
And flings profusion oer a famishd land ? 
Nor yet, to GALLIA are her smiles confind, 
She opes her radiant gates to all mankind; 
Sure on the peopled earth there cannot be 
A foe to Libertythat dares be free. 
Who that has tasted bliss will eer deny 
The magic power of thrilling extacy ? 
Who that has breathd Healths vivifying breeze,
Would tempt the dire contagion of Disease ? 
Or prodigal of joy, his birth-right give 
In shackled slaverya wretch to live ? 

Yet let Ambition hold a temprate sway,
When Virtue rulestis Rapture to obey;
Man can but reign his transitory hour,
And love may bindwhen fear has lost its powr.
Proud may he be who nobly acts his part,
Who boasts the empire of each subjects heart,
Whose worth, exulting millions shall approve,
Whose richest treasureIS A NATIONS LOVE. 

Freedom, blithe Goddess of the rainbow vest, 
In dimpled smiles and radiant beauties drest, 
I court thee from thy azure-spangled bed 
Where Ether floats about thy winged head; 
Where tip-toe pleasure swells the choral song, 
While gales of odour waft the Cherub throng; 
On every side the laughing loves prepare 
Enameld wreaths to bind thy flowing hair: 
For thee the light-heeld graces fondly twine, 
To clasp thy yielding waist, a zone divine ! 
Venus for thee her crystal altar rears, 
Deckd with fresh myrtlegemmd with lovers tears; 
Apollo strikes his lyres rebounding strings, 
Responsive notes divine Cecilia sings, 
The tuneful sisters prompt the heavenly choir, 
Thy temple glitters with Promethean fire. 
The sacred Priestess in the centre stands, 
She strews the sapphire floor with flowry bands. 
See ! from her shrine electric incense rise; 
Hark ! Freedom echoes thro the vaulted skies. 
The Goddess speaks! O mark the blest decree, 

Mary Robinson's other poems:
  1. The Widows Home
  2. Sonnet to Evening
  3. Sonnet to My Beloved Daughter
  4. Sonnet 24. O Thou! Meek Orb
  5. Stanzas Written under an Oak in Windsor Forest

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