1793
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Declaration of Independence; a Poem.

The Declaration of Independence; a Poem: accompanied by Odes, Songs, &c. adapted to the Day. By a Citizen of Boston.

Rev. George Richards of Boston


A patriotic ode in sixty six-line Spenserians (ababcC). The poem opens with an enumeration of the causes leading to the Revolution, including the suspension of liberties, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Indian attacks. The body of the poem lists the signers of the Declaration by state. George Richards concludes with a hymn to liberty anticipating the spread of revolutionary sentiment around the globe: "Yes! man, a fellow denizen of men, | Shall know no country but the wid'ning world" p. 17.

Preface: "A frequent recurrence, to those causes, whose effects terminate in mighty political revolutions, is the best means of perpetuating LIBERTY. The Author of the following POEM is not persuaded, that he has atchieved this glorious end. Want of time and abilities, to effect so desirable a purpose, is both confessed to be his. But he has handed to the publick, every PATRIOTIC NAME from New-HAMPSHIRE to GEORGIA, who dared to explain the wrongs of AMERICA, and pronounce her INDEPENDENT of GREAT BRITAIN: An attempt of this nature, he flatters himself is not without utility: And should the present, very hasty and imperfect sketch, be favourably received, another Edition may supply the manifest deficiencies of this little PAMPHLET. Boston, July 1, 1793" p. 4.

Samuel Kettell: "in this production he has contrived to introduce the name of every individual who signed the Declaration" Specimens of American Poetry (1829) 2:28.



The daring muse with retrospective eye,
Throws back her glance, to that immortal day,
When millions sworn to conquer, or to die,
Rouz'd as a lion panting for the prey,
And rushing headlong to the field of war,
Rode, vengeful rode, on slaughter's gore besprinkled car.

Why burnt thus fierce within the frenzied soul,
Undying freedom's life enkindling flame?
Who led the lightning? bade the thunder roll?
What godlike power? what deathless son of fame,
Rent the dark veil of ancient days in twain,
And gave to INDEPENDENCE, LIBERTY'S loos'd rein?

Say, canst thou count the sum of untold wrong,
Which fir'd to rage this last discover'd world,
To high wrought valour drove th' impassion'd throng,
And the hot bolt of tricene vengeance hurl'd,
At the proud puppets of a venal throne,
Whom EASTERN lust of haughtiest rule had blush'd to own?

As well, might gaze intense on yon gemm'd spheres,
Bring to one point of view the stars of heav'n:—
As soon, the dew drops, nature's pearly tears,
Or autumn's leaves by rapid whirlwinds driv'n,
Shall be wrote down on registers of time,
As art numeric, number more than countless crime.

Heard ye that sigh? It is the sigh of LAW,
The grand palladium of terrestrial right;
Lies crush'd by DESPOTISM'S TYPHAEAN paw,
And JUSTICE sinks to realms of brooding night:
JURIES are driv'n before the rising storm,
And KING PAID JUDGES, judgment's gold rul'd bench deform.

Are there no HAMPDENS, PYMS, who dare to rise
No MARVELL'S who abhor the DANAEN show'r?
Yes! ROMAN patriots croud these western skies,
Nor heed the scorpion lash of NIMROD pow'r:
Temp'rate, yet firm, they poize the dubious scales—
But PRIVATE vice, awhile, o'er PUBLICK good prevails.

The mild petition, bold remonstrance fail—
Infuriate demons, lust of power and gold,
(Whose cheeks ne'er turn'd at human mis'ry pale)
The reins of government triumphant hold:
New deeds of wrong, and acts first penn'd in blood,
Howl, as wild furies, o'er the ATLANTIC flood.

Spirit of WOLFE! and ghost of gallant HOWE!
Was it for this, COLUMBIA'S yeomen bled,
When 'mid the vale, or on the mountain's brow,
Your arms to death, or crest plum'd vict'ry led,
A bold, intrepid, hardy, rustick train,
Whose life, with elder ALBION'S, dy'd the reeking plain.

Lo, 'mid the bow'rs of sweet, domestick peace,
Intrusive treads the son of hated war:
Whilst harpies sworn, a bleeding land to fleece,
The merchant trap in iron nets of law:
TRADE dies away — and COMMERCE quits a shore,
Where RIGHT to hard earn'd PROPERTY is known no more.

Nor PROPERTY alone, does BRITAIN claim.—
O're LIFE, the DIONYSIAN sword impends:
And fancied wrongs to some vile minnion's name,
Are punish'd far from country, peers, or friends;
Where law's PROCRUSTES lops the statute short,
Or draws that lengthening length, which suits a tyrant court.

See, ravage mark a desolated coast.—
Old ocean groans beneath the sharks of pow'r.—
In panoply of steel, a GORGON host,
Snuff blood afar — and wait the op'ning hour,
Which hurl'd on LEXINGTON the vollied storm,
And onward pour'd, in vengeance life demanding form.

Behold! that curling flame which mounts in air,
'Tis CHARLESTOWN, rolling flagrant to the skies:
How deep those groans of agony, despair!
What piercing screams in wild discordance rise!
These run, those fly, t' avoid encircling fire,
Give one fond look at home, fall down, convulse, expire.

Dun clouds of smoke! avaunt! — Mount BREED, all hail!
There glory circled patriot WARREN'S head:
STARK, LITTLE, PRESCOT, GARDNER rul'd the gale:
The BREWERS, NIXON, READ, the battle led:
Chiefs worthy ROME, in ROME'S plebeian days,
When heav'n born virtue swell'd the note of honest praise.

Cry not the ghosts of gallant freemen slain,
How long! how long! ere vengeance strikes the blow?
The dust of CHARLESTOWN flitting o'er the plain,
All eloquent, accuses loud the foe.
Heav'ns! shall their union'd voice, a boon demand,
And rouze not into agonies a mad'ning land?

Fill these dread scenes the catalogue of woes?
Ah! no. — Far worse, more cruel, still remain:
ANSPATCH, HESSE CASSEL, fell themselves as foes,
And despots goad them to COLUMBIA'S plain.
Death, desolation, BRITAIN stalk as one.—
Fate's curtain draws. — The tragedy of life's begun.

Black in the South, grim AFRIA'S soot steep'd race,
Lift at a master's throat the sharp edg'd knife.
Red in the North, the Biped of the chace,
Quaffs from embowell'd captives streaming life:
Whilst fierce ARESKONI, frantic, fires his soul,
And raging, stamps to atoms, mercy's wine fill'd bowl.

All ages, sexes, ranks are doom'd the prey,
Of loosen's havock's CANNIBALIAN bounds:
Cities and villas melt in flame away:
And foul dishonour tramples virgin mounds:
The son, the sire, the husband, wife are kill'd:
And ABEL'S righteous blood, by CAIN'S rude hand, is spill'd.

Eternal JUDGE! of everlasting right!
Shall thine own image bend beneath the stroke?
Forbid it earth! forbid it worlds of light!
Oh nerve the arm, as nature nerves the oak,
Which, whilst the sounding axe repeats the blow,
Acquires new strength, and scorns the idly threatning foe.

'Tis done! the councils of the sky, decree,
That ancient compacts shall forever cease:
The trump of heav'n, it hails COLUMBIA, free:
As enemies, in war; as friends, in peace,
AMERICA, henceforth, BRITANNIA eyes:
The last appeal is lodg'd; it thunders to the skies.

Strong, in reliance on the power divine,
United Delegates impress the seal:—
Heroes and statesmen, hail! Your names shall shine
On glory's page, when heav'n, earth, ocean, feel,
Those chymic fires which purge the dross away,
And leave creation's gold impassive of decay.

Shall not the muse, record each patriot name,
On the rich tablet of harmonic sound?
Glows not the goddess of immortal fame,
To waft the praises, wide, the world around?
Yes! poesy and fame enraptur'd join,
Inspire the beating heart, and swell th' emphatic line.

First on the page, a BARTLETT, WHIPPLE, stand
With THORNTON well belov'd, respected high;
Appointed guardians of NEW HAMPSHIRE'S land,
What time, that BRUNSWICK'S wrath illumin'd eye
Flash'd o'er the wave, as lightning from those clouds,
Where tenfold darkness long imprison'd thunder shrouds.

Who dares advance and sign th' imperial act?
ADAMS, the stern republian leads the way:
His NAMESAKE ratifies the fed'rate pact,
Even HE who POUR'D on HOLLAND floods of day:
And GERRY, PAINE, inflexible of soul,
(Whom SPECULATION never charm'd) adorn the roll.

HOPKINS deep vers'd in policy's deep maze,
(Prime magistrate of that dear, natal isle,
Where erst the poet turn'd imbecile lays,)
Inscribes his name on legislation's file:
And ELLERY, the man of sense refin'd,
His country's friend, nay more, the friend of human kind.

Next SHERMAN, WILLIAMS, WOLCOTT, HUNTINGTON,
From LIBERTY'S right hand receive the pen:
CONNECTICUT owns each as FREEDOM'S son;
And hails them, ever well belov'd of men;
Faithful and true, in hours of danger tried,
Elect, "to wing the storm, or on the whirlwind ride."

From HUDSON'S banks, see, LEWIS, MORRIS, FLOYD,
With LIVINGSTON affix the name;
By fellow peer's accordant voice employ'd,
'Mid the dark day, when faces gather'd flame,
As down, charg'd clouds, th' electric fluid ran
And fir'd that spark, which burst to flame, in free born man.

STOCKTON, HART, WITHERSPOON, to whom were giv'n,
NEW JERSEY'S equi constituted pow'rs;
With HOPKINSON, the fav'rite child of heav'n,
Whose grave now blooms, with AMARANTHINE flow'rs;
And CLARK, a brother of th' illustrious band,
On fate's dark parchment, press the nobly daring hand.

As wheel, involving wheel, of orient light,
The chariot by the river CHEBAR glow'd,
Thus bright, more bright, insufferably bright,
Name circling name, in boundless splendors flow'd:
A FRANKLIN, MORRIS, WILSON, rise to view,
Come, solemn silence, emphasize their mighty due!

RUSH, MORTON, CLYMER, TAYLR, SMITH, and ROSS,
Complete the PENNSYLVANIAN chosen NINE;
These counted honour, riches, fame, as dross;
Nor ever kneel'd except at FREEDOM'S shrine;
On purple robes, tiaras, sceptres, crowns,
Their INDEPENDENT vision cast indignant frowns.

To RODNEY, READ, the tribe of DEL'WARE gave,
The sacred trust of LIBERTY on earth:
Greatly resolv'd, embattling storms to brave,
This INFANT STATE mature in MANHOOD'S worth,
Centring as one, in RODNEY join'd with READ,
Dauntless subscribe, the all important, sev'ring deed.

CHASE, PACA, CARROLL, STONE, succeed to these,
For MARYLAND they sign with willing heart:
Not diff'rent climes, nor intervening seas,
COLUMBIA'S holy league shall break apart;
Nor fraud, nor force, nor pow'rs of earth, or hell;
Not EUROPE'S potent arm, nor brib'ry's magick spell.

What more than SPARTAN, patriot forms appear,
Rank crowding rank behind the passing file?
'Tis JEFFERSON, to heav'nly science dear,
And both the LEES illum'd by FREEDOM'S smile:
With NELSON, BRAXTON, HARRISON, belov'd,
And WYTHE, by ADAMS' soul discerning eye approv'd.

HEWES, HOOPER, PENN, whom CAROLINA chose,
To guard the violated rights of man,
Their names to ALBION'S lawless will oppose,
And high applaud the bold, decisive plan,
Which urg'd the stroke at despotism's root,
And shook from BOHUN UPA'S bough th' ASPHALTIAN fruit.

LYNCH, HEYWARD, RUTLEDGE, born in southern climes,
Where languid nature melts with fervid heat,
Dart the keen eye on BRITAIN'S map of crimes,
And instant claim an INDEPENDENT seat:—
Whilst MIDDLETON amid th' increasing scroll,
Inserts his signature on EMPIRE'S morning roll.

HALL, GWINETT, WALTON close the page divine—
These came from ALTAMAHA'S sounding flood:
Conven'd with fellow peers from St. CROIX'S line,
Their union'd spirits dare resist to blood:
LIFE, HONOUR, FORTUNE, all are pledg'd as one;—
Oh! LIBERTY, thy perfect will, on earth, is done.

HANCOCK, th' elected PRAESES of the whole,
Round whom the SUN of FREEDOM full orb'd shone;
Who gave AMERICA his inmost soul;
Who spurn'd at pardon from BRITANNIA'S throne
With holy warmth of life devoted zeal,
Firm, to the volume, set the strong republian seal.

Applausive shouts of superhuman fame,
Reechoing echoed: — And the gale
Swift pinnion'd, wafting round the world, acclaim
Triumphant, bade to INDEPENDENCE hail;—
Save, where the TORY with pestif'rous breath,
Breath'd o'er a mental waste the SCYROC blast of death.

Hark, HANCOCK speaks; — Hear, all ye STATES, he cries—
The DEED of DEEDS, the tricence sign'd DECREE
Is past: — Applauding EARTH and well pleas'd SKIES
Salute you, SOV'REIGN, INDEPENDENT, FREE:
Then wrest the CLARION from the lip of FAME,
And to the TYRANTS of the GLOBE, your WILL proclaim.

From NORTH to SOUTH, from EAST to WEST, was heard,
The MEDEAN mandate of the CHIEF belov'd;
Each sep'rate STATE confirm'd HIS sacred WORD;
Whilst hoary TIME renew'd his AGE on earth;
And counts THIS HOUR, creation's renovated birth.

Grand DAY of DAYS! First born of NATURE'S prime!
Who, bids not the NOONTIDE MORNING hail?
When FREEDOM, VIRTUE, energies sublime,
Op'd wide, the lock'd, incarcerating jail,
Where bound for ages past, with brazen chains,
Man groan'd out hated life, in agonistic pains.

And did they burst the dungeon's iron door
Of one BASTILE? And leave some SECRET key,
For TITLED villainy to turn once more,
On GOD'S own image, heav'n created, free:
No! no! indeed! ward fitting ward unfolds
'Mid variant realms infernal tyranny's deep holds.

The GALLIC LILLY blushing as the ROSE,
Puts off the ancient robe of placid WHITE:
Burning with rage the blood of thousands flows:
And starting myriads pant for ardent fight,
Where VALOUR wipes those sombre stains away,
Which SLAV'RY deep incrusted on the robe of day.

LITH'ANIA'S eagle plumes his oft clipp'd wings,
And boldly turns the daring eye to heav'n:
Prompt for a flight above the throne of kings,
Down, by a NORTHERN tempest rudely driv'n
He sinks to earth: But, shall he rise no more?
Yes! he shall rise, and yet to glory's achme soar.

Not CATH'RINE'S herd of ever trembling slaves;
Not FRED'RIC'S drove of military beasts;
GERMANIA'S swarm; SPAIN'S consecrated glaives;
Nor ITALY'S anointed host of priests;
Shall LIBERTY impede, or check her course,
Which, as the bolted lightning sweeps with sure aim'd force.

Yes! the poor wretch who broils beneath the blaze,
Of either INDIA'S marrow melting clime,
Shall rouze, to FREEDOM rouze, and close his days,
As once life clos'd in nature's early prime,
When no crown'd despot mad with lust of pow'r,
To royal vultures cried, arise and flesh devour.

Woke by the wrongs of daily injur'd man,
Some bold MONTGOM'RY yet shall dauntless rise,
Where RUSSIAN deserts hive the droning clan,
Fling LIBERTY'S broad blaze o'er BOREAL skies,
And plant amid SIBERIA'S frozen waste,
The living tree of FREEDOM, sweet to human taste.

As yet, some GREENE more sultry realms shall tread,
With banners blaz'ning on the face of day;
Whilst shouting hosts, uncloath'd, unpaid, unfed,
Rush on, where GREENE and VIRTUE point the way;
Snatch from the TYGER'S jay his half crunch'd food,
And trample grim oppression's fell HYAENA brood.

As yet, some LEE, where flames the torrid EAST,
Shall as the whirling comet speed thro' space;
And lightning on the EAGLE'S blood stain'd nest,
Save from his grasping fangs the flutt'ring race;
Whilst carrol's sweet as those of EDEN'S bow'r,
Sing IO PAEAN to the long expected hour.

Yes! man, a fellow denizen of men,
Shall know no country but the wid'ning world;
The globe's last bourne shall open on his ken;
And where the red gonfalon is unfurl'd,
That threats destruction to a single part,
The tribes of earth shall flock, with death devoted heart.

For this, a FAYETTE rush'd across the wave,
COLUMBIA'S infant cause to nobly aid:
For this, PULASKI drew the glitt'ring glaive:
For this STEUBEN the solid square display'd:
For this, de KALB, the storm of fate defied:
And are from natal climes, ten thousand heroes died:

Heroes, who thick as stars which gem yon sky,
Unfold their countless files to raptur'd sight:
Heroes, resolv'd to conquer, or to die,
Whose patriot bosoms beat for glorious fight:
Who scorn'd the shout of death as heard from far,
And rul'd the pallid courser bound to battle's car.

These pour'd contempt on ev'ry pow'r of pain:
Dar'd all the varied forms of ruthless ire:
Unconquer'd, trod COLUMBIA'S crims'ning plain:
Loud thunder brav'd; and stood the lightning's fire:
Whilst beauty, honour, freedom, glory, fame,
Entwin'd that civic wreath, which crowns each patriot name.

And is fair FREEDOM, to one spot confin'd?
Hath she no TEMPLE but amid the WEST?
Forbid it heav'n! her FANE is human kind;
Her holy ALTAR, is on nature's breast:
Nor will she quit her seat 'mid VIRTUE'S throne,
Till nation after nation hail her as their own.

At her command, a WASHINGTON shall rise,
Rule the wild war; or bid the battle cease;
He wills: — The life infuriate tempest dies:
Aloft is seen the rainbow'd sign of peace.—
KINGS blush, to see their great SUPERIOR move;
And blessing MYRIADS fold HIM in the arms of LOVE.

Farewel to WAR; it pains the feeling soul:
And yet this pious debt is due mankind,
When loos'd oppression's foaming billows roll,
And Tyranny impels the mad'ning mind
To toil immense, on seas of kindred blood,
Where fathers, husbands, children, swell the purple flood.

Hear! gracious HEAV'N! oh! hear the fervent prayer!
May all the FAMILY of MAN below,
The equal blessings of their FATHER share!
Whilst praise rapt hearts who feel th' impassion'd glow
Of gratitude, for HUMAN good, DIVINE,
Pronounce as one, "the KINGDOM, POW'R, and GLORY thine."

Give to all Kings, Republicks, Empires, States,
Thy wisdom to inform, direct and guide;
And banish thou, from earth, the horrid traits
Of mad ambition, av'rice, lust, and pride:
ALL NATIONS bind in amity's soft chain:
And wide from EAST to WEST extend MESSIAH'S reign.

Lead forth the day, that day is known to thee—
To man, thy promise, LORD, that day hath giv'n,
When white rob'd PEACE shall rule from SEA to SEA,
And gladden'd EARTH, in emulance of HEAV'N,
Their common polities all base on LOVE,
The NAME the NATURE, ESSENCE of the GOD above.

Dispel those clouds that darken EUROPE'S light;
Say, to the world's full tempest, hush, be still;
From SUPERSTITION rend the veil of NIGHT;
On BIGOTS, drop the dew of HERMON'S hill;
Let KNOWLEDGE, VIRTUE, FREEDOM wide extend:
And hour evolving hour to brighter bliss ascend.

The GREATER GOOD, thy liberal soul designs,
We humbly wait, in that more PERFECT DAY,
When FAITH her delegated pow'r resigns;
And HOPE no longer smooths the thorn edg'd way:
But LOVE, thy LOVE, the LOVE of GOD, shall still abide,
And deep'ning deepen mercy's every rising tide.

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