BOADICEA: AN ODE|
[Written 1780. Published 1782.]
WHEN the British warrior queen,|
Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought, with an indignant mien,
Counsel of her country's gods,
Sage beneath a spreading oak
Sat the Druid, hoary chief;
Ev'ry burning word he spoke
Full of rage, and full of grief.
Princess! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs,
'Tis because resentment ties
All the terrors of our tongues.
"Rome shall perish—write that word
In the blood that she has spilt;
Perish, hopeless and abhorr'd,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.
Rome, for empire far renown'd,
Tramples on a thousand states;
Soon her pride shall kiss the ground—
Hark! the Gaul is at her gates!
Other Romans shall arise,
Heedless of a soldier's name;
Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize—
Harmony the path to fame.
Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land,
Arm'd with thunder, clad with wings,
Shall a wider world command.
Regions Cæsar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.
Such the bard's prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending, as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre.
She, with all a monarch's pride,
Felt them in her bosom glow;
Rush'd to battle, fought, and died;
Dying, hurl'd them at the foe.
Ruffians, pitiless as proud,
Heav'n awards the vengeance due;
Empire is on us bestow'd,
Shame and ruin wait for you.
The Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper.
H. S. Milford, ed.
London: Henry Frowde, 1905. 310-1.
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