1796 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Merry

G. L. G. of Baltimore, "Ode to Mr. R. Merry, on his Arrival in America" 1796; American Universal Magazine [Philadelphia] 2 (1 May 1797) 189-91.



Lo! where, to grace the Western shore,
Across the broad Atlantic wave,
By happy breezes wafted o'er,
The fav'rite of each MUSE appears;
To whom with partial hand they gave,
To penetrate all NATURE through,
Her beauteous form to paint to view,
And Proteus-like t' assume each shape she wears.
But see, at last he comes;
Wreath'd in the spoil,
Of Britain's Isle,
To bless COLUMBIA'S MUSE, and consecrate her DOMES.

'Tis DELLA CRUSCA'S self that lands;
Prepare each BARD the joyful song,
Let Echo catch the Music from your hands,
And o'er each distant wild the sounds prolong!

Ye few, whose minds enlarg'd can trace,
The Sisters to their bright retreats;
Who taste, with pure delight, the sweets,
Collected in that happy place;
With our accord your voices join,
Let your just reward be known,
The laurel'd chaplet for his brows entwine,
And place him on the LAUREAT'S throne.

As when the lark with soaring wing,
Mounts his matin Ode to sing;
Meets the SUN'S effulgent glare,
He hangs suspended in the air;
With wonder the vast orb he views,
Yet still his grateful theme pursues,
So as to thee, great bard, I raise,
With infant skill my humble lays.
I feel thy splendor check my pride,
And turn my weak attempt aside;
Yet I will urge the vent'rous sail,
And bid thy happy landing hail!

Say, wilt thou here resume the lyre,
And strike it with thy wonted fire?
Shall by thee our swains be taught;
How to mould the infant thought;
To give the young idea birth,
And calls the latent genius forth?
Shall we hear thy votive shell,
And on the sounds enraptur'd dwell?

With mute attention list the mellow strain,
Floating in solemn numbers through the air;
As when on FONTENOY'S ensanguin'd plain,
Thou wept the desolating chance of WAR.

Or as, when seated on the rocky cliff,
Thou hail'd the exit of NEGLECTED TIME;
Or fill'd the soul with SLAV'RY'S piercing grief,
'Till Tyrants shudder'd to behold their crime.

O! shall we find, to virtue sacred still!
Thou hold'st the scourge o'er dark oppression's head;
Shall thy keen arrows teach the wretch to feel,
Who, impious, dares on Nature's laws to tread!

Or should AMBITION with presumptuous hand,
Grasp at our liberties, our rights confound;
Wilt thou not hunt the Culprit through the land,
And with just vengeance hurl him to the ground?

For such the task that suits the freeborn muse;
(Such did the bards of Greece and Rome employ)
'Tis her's MAN'S equal nature to diffuse,
And guard her COUNTRY'S CHARTER from annoy!

But should, (forgive the anxious throught,)
Thy mind, with fell corruption fraught,
Basely shrink from Freedom's cause,
To advocate a DESPOT'S laws;
Fly — far beyond the reach of day;
Or seek some "petty tyrant's" sway!
There, where SLAVES themselves create,
Sing the pleasures of their State.
Teach them to crouch beneath their ruler's nod,
And bend to KINGS with homage held from GOD!

But leave COLUMBIA free!
Nor seek to lead her sons astray;
Avoid the sure avenging blow
That would the rash attempt repay,
And learn this truth from me;
Though long delay'd the fated hour,
Who wakes her rage shall feel her pow'r;
Who breathes a thought 'gainst LIBERTY'S her foe.

Unworthy doubts give place—
He ne'er can stoop to prove you true;
He will not dare the fame disgrace,
Bestow'd, exalted Maids! by you.
Your sacred rites he'll still revere,
And guard your Altars with a vot'ry's care.

Then taste the blessings Freedom proves,
See the Eagle spreads her wings;
She wafts thee to her fav'rite groves.
Seize their Lyre and strike the strings!
Let us hear the magic sound;
Sing of Nature's wanton pride,
That decks each happy vale around,
Where Virtue, Love, and Peace reside;
Enough has Britain from thy hand;
Here may thy genius largely roam;
A nation's plaudit here thou shalt command,
Nor ever shall MEMORY PAIN the hours to come!
[From Baltimore Telegraph 16 November 1796]