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

The Fall of Poland

By Thomas Campbell (1777–1844)

From the ‘Pleasures of Hope’

O SACRED Truth! thy triumph ceased a while,

And Hope, thy sister, ceased with thee to smile,

When leagued Oppression poured to Northern wars

Her whiskered pandoors and her fierce hussars,

Waved her dread standard to the breeze of morn,

Pealed her loud drum, and twanged her trumpet horn;

Tumultuous horror brooded o’er her van,

Presaging wrath to Poland—and to man!

Warsaw’s last champion from her height surveyed,

Wide o’er the fields, a waste of ruin laid—

O Heaven! he cried,—my bleeding country save!

Is there no hand on high to shield the brave?

Yet, though destruction sweep those lovely plains,

Rise, fellow-men! our country yet remains.

By that dread name, we wave the sword on high,

And swear for her to live! with her to die!

He said, and on the rampart-heights arrayed

His trusty warriors, few but undismayed;

Firm-paced and slow, a horrid front they form,

Still as the breeze, but dreadful as the storm;

Low murmuring sounds along their banners fly,

Revenge, or death—the watchword and reply;

Then pealed the notes, omnipotent to charm,

And the loud tocsin tolled their last alarm!

In vain, alas! in vain, ye gallant few!

From rank to rank your volleyed thunder flew;

Oh, bloodiest picture in the book of Time,

Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a crime;

Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe,

Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her woe!

Dropped from her nerveless grasp the shattered spear,

Closed her bright eye and curbed her high career;

Hope for a season bade the world farewell,

And Freedom shrieked, as Kosciusko fell!

The sun went down, nor ceased the carnage there;

Tumultuous Murder shook the midnight air—

On Prague’s proud arch the fires of ruin glow,

His blood-dyed waters murmuring far below;

The storm prevails, the rampart yields a way,

Bursts the wild cry of horror and dismay!

Hark, as the smoldering piles with thunder fall,

A thousand shrieks for hopeless mercy call!

Earth shook—red meteors flashed along the sky,

And conscious Nature shuddered at the cry!

O righteous Heaven! ere Freedom found a grave,

Why slept the sword, omnipotent to save?

Where was thine arm, O Vengeance! where thy rod,

That smote the foes of Zion and of God;

That crushed proud Ammon, when his iron car

Was yoked in wrath, and thundered from afar?

Where was the storm that slumbered till the host

Of blood-stained Pharaoh left their trembling coast;

Then bade the deep in wild commotion flow,

And heaved an ocean on their march below?

Departed spirits of the mighty dead!

Ye that at Marathon and Leuctra bled!

Friends of the world! restore your swords to man,

Fight in his sacred cause, and lead the van;

Yet for Sarmatia’s tears of blood atone,

And make her arm puissant as your own;

Oh! once again to Freedom’s cause return

The patriot Tell, the Bruce of Bannockburn!