by Philip Freneau

Philip Freneau

THOU mistress of a warlike State,
What crime of thine deserves this fate;
While other towns to freedom rise,
In thee that flame of honour dies.

With wars and horrors overspread,
Seven years and more, we fought and bled,
Seiz'd British hosts and Hessian bands,
And all—to leave thee in their hands.

While Tory tribes forsake our plains,
In you a motley crew remains—
Must vipers through thy streets prepare,
Must poison taint thy purer air?

Ah! what a scene afflicts mine eye,
In thee what putrid monsters lie!
What dirt and mud, and mouldering walls,
Burnt domes, dead dogs, and funerals!

Those grassy banks where oft I stood,
And fondly view'd the passing flood,
There owls obscene, that day light shun,
Pollute the waters as they run.

Thus in the last—once Asia's queen,
Palmyra's tottering towers are seen;
While through her streets the serpent feeds,
Thus she puts on her mourning weeds.

Lo! Skinner there collects a crew,
(Their temples brush'd with Stygian dew)
While to receive the ghastly freight
A thousand sable gallies wait.

Had he been born in days of old,
When men with gods their beasts enroll'd,
Like Nero's horse, he had been made
A consul for some Nero's aid:

O chief, that wrangled at the bar,
Grown old in less successful war,
What crouds of miscreants round thee stand
What vagrants bow to thy command!

Long, much too long, in York reside
A race that mortifies our pride—
A race that all the world defames,
And Nova Scotia only claims.

When Jove from darkness smote the sun,
And nature earth from chaos won,
One part to polish she forgot,
And Nova Scotia was the spot.

Jove saw her vile neglect, and cry'd,
"What madness did thy fancy guide!
"Why hast thou left so large a place
"With winter brooding o'er its face!

"No trees of stately growth ascend
"Eternal fogs their wings expand—
"My favourite, MAN, I place not here,
"But phantoms of a darker sphere:

"If Nature's self forgets her trade,
"What strange confusion will be made—
"Such scenes as this had been no crime,
"In Saturn's cold, unsocial clime;

"But such a blemish here to see,
"How can it else but anger me?
"Where chilling winds forever freeze,
"What fool will fix in climes like these?"

Nature, half timorous, dar'd reply,
"When earth I form'd, I don't deny
"Some parts I portion'd out for care,
"And Nova Scotia has her share;

"Mankind are form'd of different souls,
"Some will be suited near the poles,
"Some pleas'd beneath the burning line,
"And some, New Scotland, will be thine:

"Yet, in due time, my plastic hand
"Shall mould it o'er, if you command;
"By you I act—if you stand still,
"The world comes tumbling down the hill."

"Untouch'd (said Jove) remain the place;—
"In days to come, I'll form a race
"Born to commit the basest crime,
"With souls congenial to the clime.

"When traitors to their country die,
"To realms like this their phantoms fly,
"But when the brave by death decay,
"The soul finds out a diff'rent way:

"Then nature cease, at my command—
"As matters are, let matters stand,
"While this degenerate work of thine
"To thieves and traitors I resign."

Last updated January 11, 2023