1790
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Liberty.

Gentleman's Magazine 61 (January 1791) 72.

Rev. James Moore


This republican ode to Liberty in the measure of Milton's L'Allegro, opens with a description of the hardy freedom enjoyed by the Swiss peasant, and then hails the French Revolution which will extend the liberties enjoyed by Britons to those across the Channel: "May Freedom's sun in splendor rise | O'er France, as in Britannia's skies! | Thy work completed, Goddess! deign | To visit Britain's plains again." The poem is signed "J. Moore, Master of the Grammar School, Hereford, Nov. 3." Moore's name does not appear in the college lists, although his son of the same name attended Oxford.



Hail, chief of blessings here below!
Whether on mountains clad with snow,
Such as bleak Switzerland adorn,
Where Phoebus opes the golden morn,
But scarce a track can leave behind,
O'er snow-clad hills his course to find:
O Liberty! celestial Maid!
On these of old thou oft hast stray'd,
In simple rustic dress array'd,
By hostile dangers undismay'd;
Where dwells the peasant bold and free,
Unknown to bend the servile knee,
Plowing the savage rocks to soil
Benignant under human toil,
And even quaffs at night his wine
Where scarce there's earth to hold the vine.
Or whether in the boundless glen,
Remote from every haunt of men,
Or through America's vast grove,
Or forests wild, yon deign to rove;
Diffusing far, from shore to shore,
Th' attractive Spirit's richest lore,
Spreading th' intellectual day,
Infusing Freedom's genial ray,
And organizing th' human soul,
From Western coasts, from pole to pole.
As when the lightning from on high
Illumines far the Eastern sky,
Darts its pale fire to distant shores,
And after, dreadful thunder roars;
Instant it flies with vivid glare,
And leaves the the coursers of the air.
So rapid were thy steps and flight,
Dispelling Bigotry's dark night;
As when the clouds, in morning grey,
At Sol's approach disperse away,
With such o'erpowering force and ray
Sublime ascends the God of Day:
Thus thou with energetic fire
Inspired'st thy enlightened choir
To spread thy banner far and near,
Th' unhappy prisoner to cheer,
The sons of France thy sweets to taste,
And fertilize its barren waste:
Oh, may no lurking Despot hide,
Or hostile foe thy plain betide!
May Freedom's sun in splendor rise
O'er France, as in Britannia's skies!
Thy work completed, Goddess! deign
To visit Britain's plains again.
Britain, thy fav'rite native isle,
Permits thy absence yet awhile,
T' extend to Europe's vast domain
The blessings of thy happy reign,
Securely rides amidst the waves
And tempests of surrounding slaves,
Blest with its Monarch's smile and love,
Come, taste the sweets of realms above.
Thy sway is bounded as the sea;
Whilst others tremble, Britain's free!

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