Ode to Vengeance.

European Magazine 29 (March 1796) 201-02.


An allegorical ode in seven irregular stanzas, signed "Castor." Vengeance's unexpectedly changes gender in the sixth stanza in this less than competent poem. The juxtaposition of Homer and Ossian is worthy of attention as an attempt to contrast opposing notions of sublimity. In the concluding stanza Castor decides that it would perhaps be more prudent to invoke Calmness after all. This Ode to Vengeance is one of a number of poems appearing in the European Magazine in which the influence of William Collins, then at the height of his popularity, is very apparent.

Bursting with terrific ire,
With heart inflam'd and eyes on fire,
Thou, Vengeance, first descended on this earth!
Begirt with madness, fury, rage,
Thou pour'st dread terrors thro' each age,
And men aghast stood trembling at thy birth!
Whether mortal or divine,
'Tis here I trace thee, pow'rful King!—
Sprung from a celestial line,
Satan himself confess'd thy sting;
Who dar'd defy th' Omnipotent to fight,
Provok'd his anger, and call'd forth his might,
Till hurl'd by thunder's and by lightning's pow'r,
Down, down he sunk — he sunk to rise no more!

If such thy pow'r, fly, fly this earth—
What says my Muse? Lo! yonder in the air,
Surrounded with the patrons of his birth,
Malice, Revenge, and wan Despair,
Deck the triumphs of his car!
Loud run the wheels along; sublime on high,
He marks his victims with a threat'ning eye.

Thou, Clytus, felt his ire—
Heated with wine's destructive fire,
Provok'st the Conqueror of the world;
Doom'd by fate to meet his steel,
A victim to his rage you fell,
And headlong to Plutonian realms was hurl'd!

See him sublime on Homer's wing now soar,
Now fierce in combat brave Hectorean force,
Burning with fury, mark'd with dust and gore,
Now fire the men, and now provoke the horse.
See, see the battle burns!
Behold where gasping great Patroclus lies!
Now it rises, sinks by turns,
Till satiated with blood the warrior Hector dies!
Such thy pow'r, dire Vengeance! see
Thousands of Greeks cut off by thee;
And Trojans, too, pour out their soul,
A sad example of thy great controul.

But with Ossian let me go
Where streams in wild meanders flow,
Where Contemplation reigns alone
With Silence, hooded sister, fair,
A reas'ning, solemn, peaceful pair,
That tell the pleasures of their throne.

Vengeance, haste, oh haste away!
What sounds discordant vibrate thro' the air!
Deep in a gloomy cave where reigns no day,
Her sad attendants to their realms repair;
Hark, hark! a hideous sound,
Dying in this vast profound,
Agitates the troubled cave!
'Tis Vengeance seeks her native place,
And the attendants of her race,
Where gnashing fierce they always rave.

But come, thou nymph with placid eye,
Calmness, bring thy train along!
Hush'd in repose yon furies lie,
When all thy nymphs shall tune the song;
Descend, and ne'er engage
In aught that leads to strife, or stirs up Vengeance' rage.

[pp. 201-02]