Ode To war

by Elizabeth Bentley

Elizabeth Bentley

STERN Power! who long in distant lands,
Has thunder'd out thy dire commands;
And while no lenient thought thy rage restrain'd,
Hast urged thy mad destructive course,
By Fury drawn and rude resistless Force;
And arm'd with iron shield,
Too long hast joy'd thy thirsty sword to wield,
And hurl thy massy spear with blood distain'd:
And while her brazen trumpet Discord rear'd,
Whilst appall'd the nations heard,
Hast bid its jarring voice resound afar,
And vengeful bent on murderous deeds,
Hast lash'd thy fiery-breathing steeds,
And whirl'd thy dusky car:
Behind thee Dread and Horror swift advance,
And Death insatiate points his venom'd lance.
Where'er thy breath the air pollutes,
It blasts the verdure, flow'rs, and fruits
That deck'd a fertile land;
Thou bid'st pale Famine in thy train appear,
With meagre arm her leaden sceptre rear,
And dash the horn from Plenty's lib'ral hand.
Where'er thy thundering chariot wheels are roll'd,
On trembling pinions from thy presence fly,
Those natives of a purer sky,
Angelic Peace and Commerce rob'd in gold,
Nor dares Repose sustain thy threat'ning mien;
Unsated yet with human gore,
Ah! wilt thou seek Britannia's happier shore,
To act thy tragic scene?
Avaunt! nor dare approach her hallow'd coast;
Yet, if by fate she's doom'd thy shafts to feel,
Her patriot sons behold, a dauntless host,
Firm to defend her ancient laws,
And true to Loyalty's, to Virtue's cause,
At Honour's word shall lift th' avenging steel.
See frantic Gallia's guilty race,
Each Christian nation's vile disgrace,
Their hands yet reeking with their Sov'reign's blood;
Amid whose land Confusion holds her court,
And Vice and Folly with their train resort,
And beckon every mind averse from good:
Untainted by their subtlest arts,
Britannia's sons, whose honest hearts
Glow with a patriot Monarch's love,
Shall deem the foes of Truth their own,
And favour'd from above,
Shall daunt Rebellion's legions with their awful frown;
Bright Vict'ry shall attend the brave,
And o'er their heads her golden banners wave;
Returning, the triumphant band
Shall view with joy their native land;
Their deeds proclaim'd by fair Renown,
Eager she waits each hero's brow to crown;
And while her hands the laurel chaplet twine,
Swift from on high
Meek Peace shall fly,
And bid her olive in the wreath combine.
Then terror-striking War,
Shalt thou from earth be banish'd far,
Nor more beneath the realms of day be seen,
On Concord frowning as thy greatest foe,
Reluctant to thy native darkness go,
And hide thy horrid mien;
Or fix thy sole domain,
On some wide desart plain,
Where human eye shall ne'er thy form survey;
Where wolves and tygers nightly prowl,
Direct the hunger-prompted howl,
And seize the quivering prey.

Last updated January 14, 2019