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Poem by Henry James Pye

Written in the Year 1779, When the Combined Fleets Were off Plymouth

When the keen axe remorseless laid
The woods of Edgecombe low,
Lest now their leafy skreen should aid
The approaches of the foe;
Astonish'd from their dark retreats
The frantic Dryads rove,
And Echo shrieks of woe repeats
Through all the wasted grove:
Must we, they cry, so long who dwelt
On this wave-cinctur'd steep,
Who each rude blast unshrinking felt
That heaves the Atlantic deep,   
Must we forsake these solemn shades
To distant regions driven,
Or view expos'd our forest glades
To every beam of heaven?
But ah! what horrid scenes are these!
Lo Bourbon's hostile train
Here spread their canvas to the breeze,
And darken half the main:
Britannia's bloody cross no more
Aloft triumphant flies,
For see by this insulted shore
The Gallic lilies rise!
Speed then, oh speed your eager toil!
And on this lofty steep
Tear every sapling from the soil
And launch them on the deep.   
To you we sisters of the wood
At once our charge resign,
Ye sea-green daughters of the flood,
Old Ocean's Nereid line.
So shall they to this threaten'd place
A barrier firm extend,
And shores their shade was wont to grace,
Their thunder shall defend.

Henry James Pye

Henry James Pye's other poems:
  1. Elegy 8
  2. Elegy 9
  3. Sonnet I, Written at Cliefden Spring
  4. Song (Let no Shepherd sing to me)
  5. A Greek Scolion, or Song by Callistratus, on Harmodius and Aristogeiton

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