257. Ode on the Departed Regency Bill
DAUGHTER of Chaos’ doting years,
Nurse of ten thousand hopes and fears,
Whether thy airy, insubstantial shade
(The rights of sepulture now duly paid)
Spread abroad its hideous form
On the roaring civil storm,
Deafening din and warring rage
Factions wild with factions wage;
Or under-ground, deep-sunk, profound,
Among the demons of the earth,
With groans that make the mountains shake,
Thou mourn thy ill-starr’d, blighted birth;
Or in the uncreated Void,
Where seeds of future being fight,
With lessen’d step thou wander wide,
To greet thy Mother—Ancient Night.
And as each jarring, monster-mass is past,
Fond recollect what once thou wast:
In manner due, beneath this sacred oak,
Hear, Spirit, hear! thy presence I invoke!
By a Monarch’s heaven-struck fate,
By a disunited State,
By a generous Prince’s wrongs.
By a Senate’s strife of tongues,
By a Premier’s sullen pride,
Louring on the changing tide;
By dread Thurlow’s powers to awe
Rhetoric, blasphemy and law;
By the turbulent ocean—
A Nation’s commotion,
By the harlot-caresses
Of borough addresses,
By days few and evil,
(Thy portion, poor devil!)
By Power, Wealth, and Show,
(The Gods by men adored,)
By nameless Poverty,
(Their hell abhorred,)
By all they hope, by all they fear,
Hear! and appear!
Stare not on me, thou ghastly Power!
Nor, grim with chained defiance, lour:
No Babel-structure would I build
Where, order exil’d from his native sway,
Confusion may the REGENT-sceptre wield,
While all would rule and none obey:
Go, to the world of man relate
The story of thy sad, eventful fate;
And call presumptuous Hope to hear
And bid him check his blind career;
And tell the sore-prest sons of Care,
Never, never to despair!
Paint Charles’ speed on wings of fire,
The object of his fond desire,
Beyond his boldest hopes, at hand:
Paint all the triumph of the Portland Band;
Mark how they lift the joy-exulting voice,
And how their num’rous creditors rejoice;
But just as hopes to warm enjoyment rise,
Cry CONVALESCENCE! and the vision flies.
Then next pourtray a dark’ning twilight gloom,
Eclipsing sad a gay, rejoicing morn,
While proud Ambition to th’ untimely tomb
By gnashing, grim, despairing fiends is borne:
Paint ruin, in the shape of high D[undas]
Gaping with giddy terror o’er the brow;
In vain he struggles, the fates behind him press,
And clam’rous hell yawns for her prey below:
How fallen That, whose pride late scaled the skies!
And This, like Lucifer, no more to rise!
Again pronounce the powerful word;
See Day, triumphant from the night, restored.
Then know this truth, ye Sons of Men!
(Thus ends thy moral tale,)
Your darkest terrors may be vain,
Your brightest hopes may fail.
by Robert Burns
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