The weary fowls of heaven make wing in vain,
To escape your wrath; ye seize and dash them dead.
Against the earth ye drive the roaring rain;
The harvest-field becomes a river’s bed;
And torrents tumble from the hills around,
Plains turn to lakes, and villages are drowned,
And wailing voices, midst the tempest’s sound,
Rise, as the rushing waters swell and spread.
Ye dart upon the deep, and straight is heard
A wilder roar, and men grow pale, and pray;
Ye fling its floods around you, as a bird
Flings o’er his shivering plumes the fountain’s spray.
See! to the breaking mast the sailor clings;
Ye scoop the ocean to its briny springs,
And take the mountain billow on your wings,
And pile the wreck of navies round the bay.
Why rage ye thus?—no strife for liberty
Has made you mad; no tyrant, strong through fear,
Has chained your pinions till ye wrenched them free,
And rushed into the unmeasured atmosphere;
For ye were born in freedom where ye blow;
Free o’er the mighty deep to come and go;
Earth’s solemn woods were yours, her wastes of snow,
Her isles where summer blossoms all the year.
O ye wild winds! a mightier Power than yours
In chains upon the shore of Europe lies;
The sceptred throng, whose fetters he endures,
Watch his mute throes with terror in their eyes:
And armed warriors all around him stand,
And, as he struggles, tighten every band,
And lift the heavy spear, with threatening hand,
To pierce the victim, should he strive to rise.
Yet oh, when that wronged Spirit of our race
Shall break, as soon he must, his long-worn chains,
And leap in freedom from his prison-place,
Lord of his ancient hills and fruitful plains,
Let him not rise, like these mad winds of air,
To waste the loveliness that time could spare,
To fill the earth with wo, and blot her fair
Unconscious breast with blood from human veins.
But may he like the spring-time come abroad,
Who crumbles winter’s gyves with gentle might,
When in the genial breeze, the breath of God,
Come spouting up the unsealed springs to light;
Flowers start from their dark prisons at his feet,
The woods, long dumb, awake to hymnings sweet,
And morn and eve, whose glimmerings almost meet,
Crowd back to narrow bounds the ancient night.
The old man’s counsel. deg.
Among our hills and valleys, I have known
Wise and grave men, who, while their diligent hands
Tended or gathered in the fruits of earth,
Were reverent learners in the solemn school
Of nature. Not in vain to them were sent
Seed-time and harvest, or the vernal shower
That darkened the brown tilth, or snow that beat
On the white winter hills. Each brought, in turn,
Some truth, some lesson on the life of man,
Or recognition of the Eternal mind
Who veils his glory with the elements.