Two Years,

Price one shilling and six pence.

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Two Years,

A Poem.

Helen Maria Williams

Printed for T. Cadell, in The Strand.

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for Two Years, to

Sweet Spring! while others hail thy op’ning

The first young hope of Summer’s blushing hours;

Me they remind, that when her ardent ray

Shall reach the summit of our lengthen’d day,

Then, Albion! far from Thee, my cherish’d home,

To foreign climes my pensive steps must roam;

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And twice shall Spring, dispelling Winter’s gloom,

Shed o’er thy lovely vales her vernal bloom;

Twice shall thy village-maids, with chaplets gay,

And simple carols, hail returning May;

And twice shall Autumn, o’er thy cultur’d plain,

Pour the rich treasures of his yellow grain;

Twice shall thy happy peasants bear along

The lavish store, and wake the harvest-song;

Ere from the bounded deep my searching eye,

Ah! land belov’d, shall thy white cliffs descry.—

Where the slow Loire, on borders ever gay,

Delights to linger, in his sunny way,

Oft, while I seem to count, with musing glance,

The murm’ring waves that near his brink advance,

My wand’ring thoughts shall seek the grassy side,

Parental Thames! where rolls thy ample tide;

2 Where, B2r 3

Where, on thy willow’d bank, methinks, appears

Engrav’d the record of my passing years;

Ah! not like thine, their course is gently led,

By zephyrs fann’d, thro’ paths with verdure spread;

They flow, as urg’d by storms the mountain rill

Falls o’er the fragments of the rocky hill.

My native scenes! can aught in time, or space,

From this fond heart your lov’d remembrance chase?

Link’d to that heart by ties for ever dear,

By Joy’s light smile, and Sorrow’s tender tear;

By all that ere my anxious hopes employ’d,

By all my soul has suffer’d, or enjoy’d!

Still blended with those well-known scenes, arise

The varying images the past supplies;

The childish sports that fond attention drew,

And charm’d my vacant heart when life was new;

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The harmless mirth, the sadness robb’d of power

To cast its shade beyond the present hour—

And that dear hope which sooth’d my youthful breast,

And show’d the op’ning world in beauty drest;

That hope which seem’d with bright unfolding rays

(Ah, vainly seem’d!) to gild my future days;

That hope which, early wrapp’d in lasting gloom,

Sunk in the cold inexorable tomb!—

And Friendship, ever powerful to controul

The keen emotions of the wounded soul,

To lift the suff’ring spirit from despair,

And bid it feel that life deserves a care.

Still each impression that my heart retains

Is link’d, dear Land! to thee by lasting chains.

She too, sweet soother of my lonely hours!

Who gilds my thorny path with fancy’s flowers,

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The Muse, who early taught my willing heart

To feel with transport her prevailing art;

Who deign’d before my infant eyes to spread

Those dazzling visions she alone can shed;

She, who will still be found where’er I stray,

The lov’d companion of my distant way;

’Midst foreign sounds, her voice, that charms my ear,

Breath’d in my native tongue, I still shall hear;

’Midst foreign sounds, endear’d will flow the song

Whose tones, my Albion, will to thee belong!

And when with wonder thrill’d, with mind elate,

I mark the change sublime in Gallia’s state!

Where new-born Freedom treads the banks of Seine,

Hope in her eye, and Virtue in her train!

Pours day upon the dungeon’s central gloom,

And leads the captive from his living tomb;

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Tears the sharp iron from his loaded breast,

And bids the renovated land be blest—

My thoughts shall fondly turn to that lov’d Isle,

Where Freedom long has shed her genial smile.

Less safe in other lands the triple wall,

And massy portal, of the Gothic hall,

Than in that favour’d Isle the straw-built thatch,

Where Freedom sits, and guards the simple latch.

Yet, Albion! while my heart to thee shall spring,

To thee its first, its best affections bring;

Yet, when I hear exulting millions pour

The shout of triumph on the Gallic shore;

Not without sympathy my pensive mind

The bounds of human bliss enlarg’d, shall find;

Not without sympathy my glowing breast

Shall hear, on any shore, of millions blest!

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Scorning those narrow souls, whate’er their clime,

Who meanly think that sympathy a crime;

Who, if one wish for human good expand

Beyond the limits of their native land,

And from the worst of ills would others free,

Deem that warm wish, my Country! guilt to thee.

Ah! why those blessings to one spot confine,

Which, when diffus’d, will not the less be thine?

Ah! why repine if far those blessings spread

For which so oft thy gen’rous sons have bled?

Shall Albion mark with scorn the lofty thought,

The love of Liberty, herself has taught?

Shall her brave sons, in this enlighten’d age,

Assume the bigot-frown of papal rage,

Nor tolerate the vow to Freedom paid,

If diff’ring from the ritual they have made?

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Freedom! who oft on Albion’s fost’ring breast

Has found her friends in stars and ermine drest,

Allows that some among her chosen race

Should there the claim to partial honours trace,

And in the long-reflected lustre shine

That beams thro’ Ancestry’s ennobled line;

While she, with guardian wing, can well secure

From each proud wrong the undistinguish’d poor.

On Gallia’s coast, where oft the robe of state

Was trail’d by those whom Freedom’s soul must hate;

Where, like a comet, rank appear’d to glow

With dangerous blaze, that threaten’d all below;

There Freedom now, with gladden’d eye, beholds

The simple vest that flows in equal folds.

And tho’ on Seine’s fair banks a transient storm

Flung o’er the darken’d wave its angry form;

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That purifying tempest now has past,

No more the trembling waters feel the blast;

The bord’ring images, confus’dly trac’d

Along the ruffled stream, to order haste;

The vernal day-spring bursts the partial gloom,

And all the landscape glows with fresher bloom.

When, far around that bright’ning scene, I view

Objects of gen’ral bliss, to Gallia new;

Then, Albion! shall my soul reflect with pride

Thou wert her leading star, her honour’d guide;

That, long in slav’ry sunk, when taught by thee,

She broke her fetters, and has dar’d to be free;

In new-born majesty she seems to rise,

While sudden from the land oppression flies.

So, at the solemn hour of Nature’s birth,

When brooding darkness veil’d the beauteous earth,

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Heaven’s awful mandate pierc’d the solid night,

“Let there be light,” it said, “and there was light!”

Ah! when shall Reason’s intellectual ray

Shed o’er the moral world more perfect day?

When shall that gloomy world appear no more

A waste, where desolating tempests roar?

Where savage Discord howls in threat’ning form,

And wild Ambition leads the mad’ning storm;

Where hideous Carnage marks his dang’rous way,

And where the screaming vulture scents his prey?—

Ah! come, blest Concord! chase, with smile serene,

The hostile passions from the human scene!

May Glory’s lofty path be found afar

From agonizing groans and crimson war;

And may the ardent mind, that seeks renown,

Claim, not the martial, but the civic crown!

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While pure Benevolence, with happier views

Of bright success, the gen’ral good pursues;

Ah! why, my Country! with indignant pain,

Why in thy senate did she plead in vain?

Ah! why in vain enforce the Captive’s cause,

And urge Humanity’s eternal laws?

With fruitless zeal the tale of horror trace,

And ask redress for Afric’s injur’d race?

Unhappy race! ah! what to them avail’d,

That touching eloquence, whose efforts fail’d?

Tho’ in the senate Mercy found combin’d

All who possess the noblest pow’rs of mind,

On other themes, pre-eminently bright,

They shine, like single stars, with sep’rate light;

Here, only here, with intermingled rays,

In one resplendent constellation blaze;

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Yes, Captive race! if all the force display’d

By glowing Genius, in Compassion’s aid,

When, with that energy she boasts alone,

She made your wrongs, your ling’ring tortures known;

Bade full in view the bloody visions roll,

Shook the firm nerves, and froze the shudd’ring soul!—

As when the sun, in piercing radiance bright,

Dispelling the low mists of doubtful light,

Its lustre on some hideous object throws,

And all its hateful horror clearly shows—

If Genius could in Mercy’s cause prevail,

When Interest presses the opposing scale,

How swift had Britons torn your your galling chain,

And from their country wip’d its foulest stain!—

But oh, since mis’ry, in its last excess,

In vain from British honour hopes redress;

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May other Lands the bright example show,

May other regions lessen human woe!

Yes, Gallia, haste! tho’ Britain’s sons decline

The glorious power to save, that power is thine;

Haste! since, while Britain courts that dear-bought gold,

For which her virtue and her fame are sold,

And calmly calculates her trade of death,

Her groaning victims yield in pangs their breath;

Then save some portion of that suff’ring race

From ills the mind can scarce endure to trace!

Oh! whilst with mien august thy Leaders scan,

And guard with jealous zeal the rights of man,

Forget not that to all kind Nature gives

Those common rights, the claim of all that lives.—

But yet my filial heart its wish must breathe

That Britain first may snatch this deathless wreath;

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First to the earth this act divine proclaim,

And wear the freshest palm of virtuous fame;

May I, in foreign realms, her glories hear,

Catch the lov’d sounds, and pour th’ exulting tear!

And when, the destin’d hour of exile past,

My willing feet shall reach their home at last;

When, with the trembling hope Affection proves,

My eager heart shall search for those it loves,

May no sharp pang that cherish’d hope destroy,

And from my bosom tear the promis’d joy;

Shroud every object, every scene in gloom,

And lead my bleeding soul to Friendship’s tomb!

But may that moment to my eyes restore

The friends whose love endears my native shore!

Ah! long may Friendship, like the western ray,

Chear the sad evening of a stormy day;

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And gild my shadowy path with ling’ring light,

The last dear beam that slowly sinks in night.