Poems

Vision Of Columbus â?? Book 2

High o'er the changing scene, as thus he gazed,
The indulgent Power his arm sublimely raised;
When round the realms superior lustre flew,
And call'd new wonders to the hero's view.
He saw, at once, as far as eye could rove,
Like scattering herds, the swarthy people move,
In tribes innumerable; all the waste,
Beneath their steps, a varying shadow cast.
As airy shapes, beneath the moon's pale eye,
When broken clouds sail o'er the curtain'd sky,
Spread thro' the grove and flit along the glade,
And cast their grisly phantoms thro' the shade;
So move the hordes, in thickers half conceal'd,
Or vagrant stalking o'er the open field.
Here ever-restless tribes, despising home,
O'er shadowy streams and trackless deserts roam;
While others there, thro' downs and hamlets stray,
And rising domes a happier state display.
The painted chiefs, in death's grim terrors drest,
Rise fierce to war, and beat the savage breast;
Dark round their steps collecting warriors pour,
And dire revenge begins the hideous roar;
While to the realms around the signal flies,
And tribes on tribes, in dread disorder, rise,
Track the mute foe and scour the distant wood,
Wide as a storm, and dreadful as a flood;
Now deep in groves the silent ambush lay,
Or wing the flight or sweep the prize away,
Unconscious babes and reverend sires devour,
Drink the warm blood and paint their cheeks with gore.
While all their mazy movements fill the view.
Where'er they turn his eager eyes pursue;
He saw the same dire visage thro' the whole,
And mark'd the same fierce savageness of soul:
In doubt he stood, with anxious thoughts oppress'd,
And thus his wavering mind the Power address'd.
Say, from what source, O Voice of wisdom, sprung
The countless tribes of this amazing throng?
Where human frames and brutal souls combine,
No force can tame them and no arts refine.
Can these be fashion'd on the social plan?
Or boast a lineage with the race of man?
In yon fair isle, when first my wandering view
Ranged the glad coast and met the savage crew;
A timorous herd, like harmless roes, they ran,
Hail'd us as Gods from whom their race began,
Supply'd our various wants, relieved our toil,
And oped the unbounded treasures of their isle.
But when, their fears allay'd, in us they trace
The well-known image of a mortal race;
When Spanish blood their wondering eyes beheld,
Returning rage their changing bosoms swell'd;
Their jaws the crimson dainty long'd to taste,
And spread, with foreign flesh, the rich repast.
My homeward sail, far distant on the main,
Incautious left a small unguarded train,
When, in their horrid power, bereft of aid,
That train with thee, O lost Arada, bled.
No faith no treaty calms their maddening flame,
Rage all their joy, and slaughter all their aim;
How the dread savage bands with fury burn'd,
When o'er the wave our growing host return'd!
Now, mild with joy, a friendly smile they show'd,
And now their dark-red visage frown'd in blood;
Till, call'd afar, from all the circling shore,
Swift thro' the groves the yelling squadrons pour,
The wide wings stretching sweep the unbounded plain,
That groans beneath the innumerable train.
Our scanty files, ascending o'er the strand,
Tread the bold champaign and the fight demand;
With steeds and hounds the dreadful onset moves,
And thundering batteries rend the distant groves;
Swift fly the scattering foes, like shades of night,
When orient splendors urge their rapid flight.
Our proffer'd friendship bade the discord cease,
Spared the grim host and gave the terms of peace.
The arts of civil life we strove to lend,
Their lands to culture and their joys extend,
Sublime their views, fair virtue's charms display,
And point their passage to eternal day.
Still proud to rove, our offers they disdain,
Insult our friendship and our rites prophane.
In that blest island, still the myriads rest,
Bask in the sunshine, wander with the beast,
Feed on the foe, or from the victor fly,
Rise into life, exhaust their rage, and die.
Tell then, my Seer, from what dire sons of earth
The brutal people drew their ancient birth?
Whether in realms, the western heavens that close,
A tribe distinct from other nations rose,
Born to subjection; when, in happier time,
A nobler race should hail their fruitful clime.
Or, if a common source all nations claim,
Their lineage, form, and reasoning powers the same,
What sovereign cause, in secret wisdom laid,
This wonderous change in God's own work has made?
Why various powers of soul and tints of face
In different climes diversify the race?
To whom the Guide; Unnumber'd causes lie
In earth and sea and round the varying sky,
That fire the soul, or damp the genial flame,
And work their wonders on the human frame.
See beauty, form and colour change with placeâ??
Here charms of health the blooming visage grace;
There pale diseases float in every wind,
Deform the figure, and degrade the mind.
From earth's own elements, thy race at first
Rose into life, the children of the dust;
These kindred elements, by various use,
Nourish the growth and every change produce;
Pervade the pores, awake the infant bloom,
Lead life along, and ope the certain tomb;
In each ascending stage the man sustain,
His breath, his food, his physic and his bane.
In due proportions, where these virtues lie,
A perfect form their equal aids supply;
And, while unchanged the efficient causes reign,
Age following age the unvaried race maintain.
But where crude elements distemper'd rise,
And cast their sickening vapours round the skies,
Unlike that harmony of human frame,
Where God's first works and nature's were the same,
The unconscious tribes, attempering to the clime,
Still vary downward with the years of time;
Till fix'd, at last, their characters abide,
And local likeness feeds their local pride.
The soul too varying with the changing clime,
Feeble or fierce, or groveling or sublime,
Forms with the body to a kindred plan,
And lives the same, a nation or a man.
Yet think not clime alone, or height of poles,
On every shore, the springs of life controuls;
A different cast the glowing zone demands,
In Paria's blooms, from Tombut's burning sands.
Internal causes, thro' the earth and skies,
Blow in the breeze or on the mountain rise,
Thro' air and ocean, with their changes run,
Breathe from the ground or circle with the fun.
Where these long shores their boundless regions spread
See the same form all different tribes pervade;
Thro' all, alike, the fertile forests bloom,
And all, uncultured, shed a solemn gloom;
Thro' all great nature's boldest features rise,
Sink into vales and tower amid the skies;
Streams, darkly-winding, stretch a broader sway,
The groves and mountains bolder walks display:
A dread sublimity informs the whole,
And wakes a dread sublimity of soul.
Yet time and art shall other changes find,
And open still and vary still the mind;
The countless swarms that tread these dank abodes,
Who glean spontaneous fruits and range the woods,
Fix'd here for ages, in their swarthy face,
Display the wild complexion of the place.
Yet when their tribes to happy nations rise,
And earth by culture warms the genial skies,
A fairer tint and more majestic grace
Shall flush their features and exalt the race;
While milder arts, with social joys refined,
Inspire new beauties in the growing mind.
Thy followers too, fair Europe's noblest pride,
When future gales shall wing them o'er the tide,
A ruddier hue and deeper shade shall gain,
And stalk, in statelier figures, o'er the plain.
While nature's grandeur lifts the eye abroad
O'er these dread footsteps of the forming God;
Wing'd on a wider glance the venturous soul
Bids greater powers and bolder thoughts unroll;
The sage, the chief, the patriot, unconfined,
Shield the weak world and counsel for mankind.
But think not thou, in all the race of man,
That different pairs, in different climes, began;
Or tribes distinct, by signal marks confest,
Were born to serve or subjugate the rest.
The hero heard; But say, celestial Guide,
Who led the wanderers o'er the b



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