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Poem by James Montgomery


A Voyage round the World


EMBLEM of eternity,
Unbeginning, endless sea!
Let me launch my soul on thee.

Sail nor keel, nor helm nor oar,
Need I, ask I, to explore
Thine expanse from shore to shore.

By a single glance of thought
Thy whole realm s before me brought,
Like the universe, from nought.

All thine aspects now I view,
Ever old, yet ever new;
Time nor tide thy power subdue.

All thy voices now I hear;
Sounds of gladness, grandeur, fear,
Meet and mingle in mine ear.

All thy wonders are revealed,
Treasures hidden in thy field,
From the birth of nature sealed.

But thy depths I search not now,
Nor thy liquid surface plough
With a billow-breaking prow.

Eager fancy, unconfined,
In a voyage of the mind,
Sweeps along thee like the wind.

Here a breeze, I skim thy plain;
There a tempest, pour amain
Thunder, lightning, hail, and rain.

Where the surges never roll
Round the undiscovered pole,
Thence set out, my venturous soul!

See oer Greenland, cold and wild,
Rocks of ice eternal piled;
Yet the mother loves her child,

And the wildernesses drear
To the natives heart are dear;
All loves charities dwell here.

Next on lonely Labrador,
Let me hear the snow-storms roar,
Blinding, burying all before.

Yet even here, in glens and coves,
Man the heir of all things roves,
Feasts and fights, and laughs and loves.

But a brighter vision breaks
Oer Canadian woods and lakes;
These my spirit soon forsakes.

Land of exiled liberty,
Where our fathers once were free,
Brave New England! hail to thee!

Pennsylvania, while thy flood
Waters fields unbought with blood,
Stand for peace, as thou hast stood.

The West Indies I behold,
Like the Hesperides of old,
Trees of life with fruits of gold.

No,a curse is on their soil;
Bonds and scourges, tears and toil,
Man degrade and earth despoil.

Horror-struck, I turn away,
Coasting down the Mexique bay;
Slavery there hath had her day.

Hark! eight hundred thousand tongues
Startle midnight with strange songs;
England ends her negroes wrongs.

Loud the voice of freedom spoke,
Every accent split a yoke,
Every word a fetter broke.

South America expands
Forest-mountains, river-lands,
And a nobler race demands.

And a nobler race arise,
Stretch their limbs, unclose their eyes,
Claim the earth, and seek the skies.

Gliding through Magellans Straits,
Where two oceans ope their gates,
What a glorious scene awaits!

The immense Pacific smiles,
Round ten thousand little isles,
Haunts of violence and wiles.

But the powers of darkness yield,
For the Cross is in the field,
And the light of life revealed.

Rays from rock to rock it darts,
Conquers adamantine hearts,
And immortal bliss imparts.

North and west, receding far
From the evenings downward star,
Now I mount Auroras car:

Pale Siberias deserts shun,
From Kamschatkas storm-cliffs run,
South and east, to meet the sun.

Jealous China, dire Japan,
With bewildered eyes I scan,
They are but dead seas of man,

Ages in succession find
Forms that change not, stagnant mind,
And they leave the same behind.

Lo! the Eastern Cyclades,
Phœnix-nests and sky-blue seas,
But I tarry not with these.

Pass we drear New Hollands shoals,
Where no ample river rolls,
World of unawakened souls!

Bring them forth;t is Heavens decree.
Man, assert thy liberty;
Let not brutes look down on thee.

Either India next is seen,
With the Ganges stretched between;
Ah! what horrors here have been.

War, disguised as commerce, came;
Britain, carrying sword and flame,
Won an empire,lost her name.

But that name shall be restored,
Law and justice wield the sword,
And her GOD be here adored.

By the Gulf of Persia sail,
Where the true-love nightingale
Woos the rose in every vale.

Though Arabia charge the breeze
With the incense of her trees,
On I press through southern seas.

Cape of storms, thy spectre fled,
See, the angel Hope, instead,
Lights from heaven upon thine head;

And where Table-mountain stands,
Barbarous hordes from desert sands
Bless the sight with lifted hands.

St. Helenas dungeon-keep
Scowls defiance oer the deep;
There a warriors relics sleep.

Who he was, and how he fell,
Europe, Asia, Afric tell:
On that theme all time shall dwell.

But henceforth, till nature dies,
These three simple words comprise
All the future: Here he lies.

Mammons plague-ships throng the waves:
O, t were mercy to the slaves,
Were the maws of sharks their graves!

Not for all the gems and gold,
Which thy streams and mountains hold,
Or for which thy sons are sold,

Land of negroes! would I dare
In this felon-trade to share,
Or to brand its guilt forbear.

Hercules! thy pillars stand,
Sentinels of sea and land!
Cloud-capt Atlas towers at hand.

Where, when Catos word was fate,
Fell the Carthaginian state,
And where exiled Marius sate,

Mark the dens of caitiff Moors;
Ha! the pirates seize their oars:
Haste we from the accurséd shores!

Egypts hieroglyphic realm
Other floods than Niles oerwhelm;
Slaves turned despots hold the helm.

Judahs cities are forlorn,
Lebanon and Carmel shorn,
Zion trampled down with scorn.

Greece, thine ancient lamp is spent;
Thou art thine own monument;
But the sepulchre is rent,

And a wind is on the wing,
At whose breath new heroes spring,
Sages teach, and poets sing.

Italy, thy beauties shroud
In a gorgeous evening cloud;
Thy refulgent head is bowed.

Rome, in ruins lovely still,
On her Capitolian hill,
Bids thee, mourner, weep thy fill.

Yet where Roman genius reigns,
Roman blood must warm the veins;
Look well, tyrants, to your chains!

Splendid realm of old romance,	
Spain, thy tower-crowned crest advance,
Grasp the shield and couch the lance.

At the fire-flash of thine eye,
Giant bigotry would fly,
At thy voice oppression die.

Lusitania, from the dust,
Shake thy locks,thy cause is just;
Strike for freedom, strike and trust.

France, I hurry from thy shore;
Thou art not the France of yore,
Thou art new-born France no more.

Great thou wast; and who like thee?
Then mad-drunk with liberty;
What now?neither great nor free.

Sweep by Holland like the blast,
One quick glance on Denmark cast,
Sweden, Russia,all are past.

Elbe nor Weser tempt my stay;
Germany, beware the day
When thy schools again bear sway!

Now to thee, to thee, I fly,
Fairest isle beneath the sky,
To my heart, as in mine eye.

I have seen them, one by one,
Every shore beneath the sun,
And my voyage now is done.

While I bid them all be blest,
Britain is my home, my rest;
Mine own land! I love thee best.



James Montgomery


James Montgomery's other poems:
  1. Hail to the Lord's Anointed
  2. Dale Abbey
  3. The Laurustinus
  4. Parted Friends
  5. Lines Written under a Drawing of Yardley Oak


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