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The Triumph Of Woman

Written by: Robert Southey | Biography
 | Quotes (21) |
 Glad as the weary traveller tempest-tost
To reach secure at length his native coast,
Who wandering long o'er distant lands has sped,
The night-blast wildly howling round his head,
Known all the woes of want, and felt the storm
Of the bleak winter parch his shivering form;
The journey o'er and every peril past
Beholds his little cottage-home at last,
And as he sees afar the smoke curl slow,
Feels his full eyes with transport overflow:
So from the scene where Death and Anguish reign,
And Vice and Folly drench with blood the plain,
Joyful I turn, to sing how Woman's praise
Avail'd again Jerusalem to raise,
Call'd forth the sanction of the Despot's nod,
And freed the nation best-belov'd of God.

Darius gives the feast: to Persia's court,
Awed by his will, the obedient throng resort,
Attending Satraps swell the Prince's pride,
And vanquish'd Monarchs grace their Conqueror's side.
No more the Warrior wears the garb of war,
Sharps the strong steel, or mounts the scythed car;
No more Judaea's sons dejected go,
And hang the head and heave the sigh of woe.
From Persia's rugged hills descend the train.
From where Orontes foams along the plain,
From where Choaspes rolls his royal waves,
And India sends her sons, submissive slaves.
Thy daughters Babylon to grace the feast
Weave the loose robe, and paint the flowery vest,
With roseate wreaths they braid the glossy hair.
They tinge the cheek which Nature form'd so fair,
Learn the soft step, the soul-subduing glance,
Melt in the song, and swim adown the dance.
Exalted on the Monarch's golden throne
In royal state the fair Apame shone;

Her form of majesty, her eyes of fire
Chill with respect, or kindle with desire.
The admiring multitude her charms adore,
And own her worthy of the crown she wore.

Now on his couch reclin'd Darius lay,
Tir'd with the toilsome pleasures of the day;
Without Judaea's watchful sons await
To guard the sleeping pageant of the state.
Three youths were these of Judah's royal race,
Three youths whom Nature dower'd with every grace,
To each the form of symmetry she gave,
And haughty Genius curs'd each favorite slave;
These fill'd the cup, around the Monarch kept,
Serv'd as he spake, and guarded whilst he slept.

Yet oft for Salem's hallowed towers laid low
The sigh would heave, the unbidden tear would flow;
And when the dull and wearying round of Power
Allowed Zorobabel one vacant hour,
He lov'd on Babylon's high wall to roam,
And stretch the gaze towards his distant home,
Or on Euphrates' willowy banks reclin'd
Hear the sad harp moan fitful to the wind.

As now the perfum'd lamps stream wide their light,
And social converse chears the livelong night,
Thus spake Zorobabel, "too long in vain
"For Sion desolate her sons complain;
"In anguish worn the joyless years lag slow,
"And these proud conquerors mock their captive's woe.
"Whilst Cyrus triumph'd here in victor state
"A brighter prospect chear'd our exil'd fate,
"Our sacred walls again he bade us raise,
"And to Jehovah rear the pile of praise.
"Quickly these fond hopes faded from our eyes,
"As the frail sun that gilds the wintry skies,
"And spreads a moment's radiance o'er the plain,
"Soon hid by clouds that dim the scene again.

"Opprest by Artaxerxes' jealous reign
"We vainly pleaded here, and wept in vain.
"Now when Darius, chief of mild command,
"Bids joy and pleasure fill the festive land,
"Still shall we droop the head in sullen grief,
"And sternly silent shun to seek relief?
"What if amid the Monarch's mirthful throng
"Our harps should echo to the chearful song?

"Fair is the occasion," thus the one replied,
"And now let all our tuneful skill be tried.
"Whilst the gay courtiers quaff the smiling bowl,
"And wine's strong fumes inspire the madden'd soul,
"Where all around is merriment, be mine
"To strike the lute, and praise the power of Wine.

"And whilst" his friend replied in state alone
"Lord of the earth Darius fills the throne,
"Be yours the mighty power of Wine to sing,
"My lute shall sound the praise of Persia's King."

To them Zorobabel, on themes like these
"Seek ye the Monarch of Mankind to please;
"To Wine superior or to Power's strong arms,
"Be mine to sing resistless Woman's charms.
"To him victorious in the rival lays
"Shall just Darius give the meed of praise;
"The purple robe his honor'd frame shall fold,
"The beverage sparkle in his cup of gold;
"A golden couch support his bed of rest,
"The chain of honor grace his favor'd breast;
"His the soft turban, his the car's array
"O'er Babylon's high wall to wheel its way;
"And for his wisdom seated on the throne,
"For the KING'S COUSIN shall the Bard be known."

Intent they meditate the future lay,
And watch impatient for the dawn of day.
The morn rose clear, and shrill were heard the flute,
The cornet, sackbut, dulcimer, and lute;
To Babylon's gay streets the throng resort,
Swarm thro' the gates, and fill the festive court.
High on his throne Darius tower'd in pride,
The fair Apame grac'd the Sovereign's side;
And now she smil'd, and now with mimic frown
Placed on her brow the Monarch's sacred crown.
In transport o'er her faultless form he bends,
Loves every look, and every act commends.

And now Darius bids the herald call
Judaea's Bard to grace the thronging hall.
Hush'd is each sound--the attending crowd are mute,
The Hebrew lightly strikes the chearful lute:

When the Traveller on his way,
Who has toil'd the livelong day,
Feels around on every side
The chilly mists of eventide,
Fatigued and faint his wearied mind
Recurs to all he leaves behind;
He thinks upon the well-trimm'd hearth,
The evening hour of social mirth,
And her who at departing day
Weeps for her husband far away.
Oh give to him the flowing bowl,
Bid it renovate his soul;
Then shall sorrow sink to sleep,
And he who wept, no more shall weep;
For his care-clouded brow shall clear,
And his glad eye shall sparkle thro' the tear.

When the poor man heart-opprest
Betakes him to his evening rest,
And worn with labour thinks in sorrow
Of the labor of to-morrow;
When sadly musing on his lot
He hies him to his joyless cot,
And loathes to meet his children there,
The rivals for his scanty fare:
Oh give to him the flowing bowl,
Bid it renovate his soul;
The generous juice with magic power
Shall cheat with happiness the hour,
And with each warm affection fill
The heart by want and wretchedness made chill.

When, at the dim close of day,
The Captive loves alone to stray
Along the haunts recluse and rude
Of sorrow and of solitude;
When he sits with moveless eye
To mark the lingering radiance die,
And lets distemper'd Fancy roam
Amid the ruins of his home,--
Oh give to him the flowing bowl,
Bid it renovate his soul;
The bowl shall better thoughts bestow,
And lull to rest his wakeful woe,
And Joy shall bless the evening hour,
And make the Captive Fortune's conqueror.

When the wearying cares of state
Oppress the Monarch with their weight,
When from his pomp retir'd alone
He feels the duties of the throne,
Feels that the multitude below
Depend on him for weal or woe;
When his powerful will may bless
A realm with peace and happiness,
Or with desolating breath
Breathe ruin round, and woe, and death:
Oh give to him the flowing bowl,
Bid it humanize his soul;
He shall not feel the empire's weight,
He shall not feel the cares of state,
The bowl shall each dark thought beguile,
And Nations live and prosper from his smile.

Husht was the lute, the Hebrew ceas'd the song;
Long peals of plaudits echoed from the throng;
Each tongue the liberal words of praise repaid,
On every cheek a smile applauding play'd;
The rival Bard advanced, he struck the string,
And pour'd the loftier song to Persia's King.

Why should the wearying cares of state
Oppress the Monarch with their weight?
Alike to him if Peace shall bless
The multitude with happiness;
Alike to him if frenzied War
Careers triumphant on the embattled plain,
And rolling on o'er myriads slain,
With gore and wounds shall clog his scythed car.
What tho' the tempest rage! no sound
Of the deep thunder shakes his distant throne,
And the red flash that spreads destruction round,
Reflects a glorious splendour on the Crown.

Where is the Man who with ennobling pride
Beholds not his own nature? where is he
Who but with deep amazement awe allied
Must muse the mysteries of the human mind,
The miniature of Deity.
For Man the vernal clouds descending
Shower down their fertilizing rain,
For Man the ripen'd harvest bending
Waves with soft murmur o'er the plenteous plain.
He spreads the sail on high,
The rude gale wafts him o'er the main;
For him the winds of Heaven subservient blow,
Earth teems for him, for him the waters flow,
He thinks, and wills, and acts, a Deity below!

Where is the King who with elating pride
Sees not this Man--this godlike Man his Slave?
Mean are the mighty by the Monarch's side,
Alike the wife, alike the brave
With timid step and pale, advance,
And tremble at the royal glance;
Suspended millions watch his breath
Whose smile is happiness, whose frown is death.

Why goes the Peasant from that little cot,
Where PEACE and LOVE have blest his humble life?
In vain his agonizing wife
With tears bedews her husband's face,
And clasps him in a long and last embrace;
In vain his children round his bosom creep,
And weep to see their mother weep,
Fettering their father with their little arms;
What are to him the wars alarms?
What are to him the distant foes?
He at the earliest dawn of day
To daily labor went his way;
And when he saw the sun decline,
He sat in peace beneath his vine:--
The king commands, the peasant goes,
From all he lov'd on earth he flies,
And for his monarch toils, and fights, and bleeds, and dies.

What tho' yon City's castled wall
Casts o'er the darken'd plain its crested shade?
What tho' their Priests in earnest terror call
On all their host of Gods to aid?
Vain is the bulwark, vain the tower;
In vain her gallant youths expose
Their breasts, a bulwark, to the foes.
In vain at that tremendous hour,
Clasp'd in the savage soldier's reeking arms,
Shrieks to tame Heaven the violated Maid.
By the rude hand of Ruin scatter'd round
Their moss-grown towers shall spread the desart ground.
Low shall the mouldering palace lie,
Amid the princely halls the grass wave high,
And thro' the shatter'd roof descend the inclement sky.

Gay o'er the embattled plain
Moves yonder warrior train,
Their banners wanton on the morning gale!
Full on their bucklers beams the rising ray,
Their glittering helmets flash a brighter day,
The shout of war rings echoing o'er the vale:
Far reaches as the aching eye can strain
The splendid horror of their wide array.
Ah! not in vain expectant, o'er
Their glorious pomp the Vultures soar!
Amid the Conqueror's palace high
Shall sound the song of victory:
Long after journeying o'er the plain
The Traveller shall with startled eye
See their white bones then blanched by many a winter sky.

Lord of the Earth! we will not raise
The Temple to thy bounded praise.
For thee no victim need expire,
For thee no altar blaze with hallowed fire!
The burning city flames for thee--
Thine altar is the field of victory!
Thy sacred Majesty to bless
Man a self-offer'd victim freely flies;
To thee he sacrifices Happiness,
And Peace, and Love's endearing ties,
To thee a Slave he lives, to thee a Slave he dies.


Husht was the lute, the Hebrew ceas'd to sing;
The shout rush'd forth--for ever live the King!
Loud was the uproar, as when Rome's decree
Pronounc'd Achaia once again was free;
Assembled Greece enrapt with fond belief
Heard the false boon, and bless'd the villain Chief;
Each breast with Freedom's holy ardor glows,
From every voice the cry of rapture rose;
Their thundering clamors burst the astonish'd sky,
And birds o'erpassing hear, and drop, and die.
Thus o'er the Persian dome their plaudits ring,
And the high hall re-echoed--live the King!
The Mutes bow'd reverent down before their Lord,
The assembled Satraps envied and ador'd,
Joy sparkled in the Monarch's conscious eyes,
And his pleas'd pride already doom'd the prize.

Silent they saw Zorobabel advance:
Quick on Apame shot his timid glance,
With downward eye he paus'd a moment mute,
And with light finger touch'd the softer lute.
Apame knew the Hebrew's grateful cause,
And bent her head and sweetly smil'd applause.

Why is the Warrior's cheek so red?
Why downward droops his musing head?
Why that slow step, that faint advance,
That keen yet quick-retreating glance?
That crested head in war tower'd high,
No backward glance disgrac'd that eye,
No flushing fear that cheek o'erspread
When stern he strode o'er heaps of dead;
Strange tumult now his bosom moves--
The Warrior fears because he loves.

Why does the Youth delight to rove
Amid the dark and lonely grove?
Why in the throng where all are gay,
His wandering eye with meaning fraught,
Sits he alone in silent thought?
Silent he sits; for far away
His passion'd soul delights to stray;
Recluse he roves and strives to shun
All human-kind because he loves but One!

Yes, King of Persia, thou art blest;
But not because the sparkling bowl
To rapture lifts thy waken'd soul
But not because of Power possest,
Not that the Nations dread thy nod,
And Princes reverence thee their earthly God,
Even on a Monarch's solitude
Care the black Spectre will intrude,
The bowl brief pleasure can bestow,
The Purple cannot shield from Woe.
But King of Persia thou art blest,
For Heaven who rais'd thee thus the world above
Has made thee happy in Apame's love!

Oh! I have seen his fond looks trace
Each angel feature of her face,
Rove o'er her form with eager eye,
And sigh and gaze, and gaze and sigh.
Lo! from his brow with mimic frown,
Apame takes the sacred crown;
Her faultless form, her lovely face
Add to the diadem new grace
And subject to a Woman's laws
Darius sees and smiles applause!

He ceas'd, and silent still remain'd the throng
Whilst rapt attention own'd the power of song.
Then loud as when the wintry whirlwinds blow
From ev'ry voice the thundering plaudits flow;
Darius smil'd, Apame's sparkling eyes
Glanc'd on the King, and Woman won the prize.

Now silent sat the expectant crowd, alone
The victor Hebrew gaz'd not on the throne;
With deeper hue his cheek distemper'd glows,
With statelier stature, loftier now he rose;
Heavenward he gaz'd, regardless of the throng,
And pour'd with awful voice sublimer song.

Ancient of Days! Eternal Truth! one hymn
One holier strain the Bard shall raise to thee,
Thee Powerful! Thee Benevolent! Thee Just!
Friend! Father! All in All! the Vines rich blood,
The Monarch's might, and Woman's conquering charms,--
These shall we praise alone? Oh ye who sit
Beneath your vine, and quaff at evening hour
The healthful bowl, remember him whose dews,
Whose rains, whose sun, matur'd the growing fruit,
Creator and Preserver! Reverence Him,
O thou who from thy throne dispensest life
And death, for He has delegated power.
And thou shalt one day at the throne of God
Render most strict account! O ye who gaze
Enrapt on Beauty's fascinating form,
Gaze on with love, and loving Beauty, learn
To shun abhorrent all the mental eye
Beholds deform'd and foul; for so shall Love
Climb to the Source of Virtue. God of Truth!
All-Just! All-Mighty! I should ill deserve
Thy noblest gift, the gift divine of song,
If, so content with ear-deep melodies
To please all profitless, I did not pour
Severer strains; of Truth--eternal Truth,
Unchanging Justice, universal Love.
Such strains awake the soul to loftiest thoughts,
Such strains the Blessed Spirits of the Good
Waft, grateful incense, to the Halls of Heaven.

The dying notes still murmur'd on the string,
When from his throne arose the raptur'd King.
About to speak he stood, and wav'd his hand,
And all expectant sat the obedient band.

Then just and gen'rous, thus the Monarch cries,
"Be thine Zorobabel the well earned prize.
"The purple robe of state thy form shall fold,
"The beverage sparkle in thy cup of gold;
"The golden couch, the car, and honor'd chain,
"Requite the merits of thy favor'd strain,
"And rais'd supreme the ennobled race among
"Be call'd MY COUSIN for the victor song.
"Nor these alone the victor song shall bless,
"Ask what thou wilt, and what thou wilt, possess."
"Fall'n is Jerusalem!" the Hebrew cries.
And patriot anguish fills his streaming eyes,
"Hurl'd to the earth by Rapine's vengeful rod,
"Polluted lies the temple of our God,
"Far in a foreign land her sons remain,
"Hear the keen taunt, and drag the captive chain:
"In fruitless woe they wear the wearying years,
"And steep the bread of bitterness in tears.
"O Monarch, greatest, mildest, best of men,
"Restore us to those ruin'd walls again!
"Allow our race to rear that sacred dome,
"To live in liberty, and die at Home."

So spake Zorobabel--thus Woman's praise
Avail'd again Jerusalem to raise,
Call'd forth the sanction of the Despot's nod,
And freed the Nation best belov'd of God.



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