William Cowper


[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.



Site copyright ©1996-2006 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.
Page created by Anniina Jokinen on November 20, 2006.

poems, love, romantic, satires, lyrics, poetry, Restoration, Literature, English, England, British, Renaissance, eighteenth century, literary, history, poetical, works, poet, writers, sonnets, books