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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

From the ‘Ode to Napoleon’

By Willem Bilderdijk (1756–1831)

Translation in the metre of the original of Edward Irenæus Prime-Stevenson

POESY, nay! Too long art silent!

Seize now the lute! Why dost thou tarry?

Let sword the Universe inherit,

Noblest as prize of war be glory.

Let thousand mouths sing hero-actions:

E’en so, the glory is not uttered.

Earth-gods—an endless life, ambrosial,

Find they alone in song enchanting.

Watch thou with care thy heedless fingers

Striking upon the lyre so godlike;

Hold thou in check thy lightning-flashes,

That where they chance to fall are blighting.

He who on eagle’s wing soars skyward

Must at the sun’s bright barrier tremble.

Frederic, though great in royal throning,

Well may amaze the earth, and heaven,

When clothed by thunder and the levin

Swerves he before the hero’s fanfare.


Pause then, Imagination! Portals

Hiding the Future, ope your doorways!

Earth, the blood-drenched, yields palms and olives.

Sword that hath cleft on bone and muscle,

Spear that hath drunk the hero’s lifeblood,

Furrow the soil, as spade and ploughshare.

Blasts that alarm from blaring trumpets

Laws of fair Peace anon shall herald:

Heaven’s shame, at last, its end attaining.

Earth, see, O see your sceptres bowing.

Gone is the eagle once majestic;

On us a cycle new is dawning;

Look, from the skies it hath descended.

O potent princes, ye the throne-born!

See what Almighty will hath destined.

Quit ye your seats, in low adoring,

Set all the earth, with you, a-kneeling;

Or—as the free-born men should perish—

Sink in grave with crown and kingdom.

Glorious in lucent rays, already

Brighter than gold a sceptre shineth;

No warring realm shall dim its lustre,

No earth-storm veil its blaze to dimness.

Can it be true that, centuries ended,

God’s endless realm, the Hebrew, quickens

Lifting its horns—though not for always?

Shines in the East the sun, like noonday?

Shall Hagar’s wandering sons be heartened

After the Moslem’s haughty baiting?

Speed toward us, speed, O days so joyous!

Even if blood your cost be reckoned;

Speed as in Heaven’s gracious favor,

Bringing again Heaven’s earthly kingdom.

Yea, though through waters deep we struggle,

Joining in fight with seas of troubles,

Suffer we, bear we—hope—be silent!

On us shall dawn a coming daybreak—

With it, the world of men be happy!