Matthew Prior

Here you will find the Long Poem An Ode - In Imitation of Horace, Book III. Ode II. of poet Matthew Prior

An Ode - In Imitation of Horace, Book III. Ode II.

How long, deluded Albion, wilt thou lie
In the lethargic sleep, the sad repose
By which thy close thy constant enemy
Has softly lull'd thee to thy woes? 
Or wake, degenerate isle, or cease to own
What thy old kings in Gallic camps have done, 
The spoils they brought thee back, the crowns they won,
William (so Fate requires) again is arm'd, 
Thy father to the field is gone, 
Again Maria weeps her absent lord,
For thy repose content to rule alone. 
Are thy enervate sons not yet alarm'd?
When William fights dare they look tamely on, 
So slow to get their ancient fame restored,
As not to melt at Beauty's tears nor follow Valour's sword?

See the repenting isle awakes,
Her vicious chains the generous goddess breaks;
The fogs around her temples are dispell'd;
Abroad she looks, and sees arm'd Belgia stand
Prepared to meet heir common lord's command, 
Her lions roaring by her side, her arrows in her hand,
And blushing to have been so long withheld,
Weeps off her crime, and hastens to the field:
Henceforth her youth shall be inured to bear 
Hazardous toil and active war:
To march beneath the dogstar's raging heat,
Patient of summer's drought and martial sweat,
And only grieve in winter's camp to find
Its days too short for labours they design'd:
All night beneath hard heavy arms to watch,
All day to mount the trench, to storm the breach,
And all the rugged paths to tread
Where William and his virtue led.

Silence is the soul of war; 
Deliberate counsel must prepare
The mighty work which valour must complete:
Thus William rescued, thus preserves the state,
Thus teaches us to think and dare:
As, whilst his cannon just prepared to breathe
Avenging anger and swift death,
In the tried metal the close dangers glow, 
And now, too late, the dying foe
Perceives the flame, yet cannot ward the blow; 
So whilst in William's breast ripe counsels lie,
Secret and sure as brooding Fate,
No more of his design appears
Than what awakens Gallia's fears,
And (though Guilt's eye can sharply penetrate)
Distracted Lewis can descry 
Only a long unmeasured ruin nigh.

On Norman coasts, and banks of frighted Seine, 
Lo! the impending storms begin; 
Britannia's safely through her master's sea
Plows up her victorious way:
The French Salmoneus throws his bolts in vain
Whilst the true thunderer asserts the main.
'Tis done! to shelves and rocks his fleets retire,
Swift victory, in vengeful flames,
Burns down the pride of their presumptuous names:
They run to shipwreck to avoid our fire,
And the torn vessels that regain their coast
Are but sad marks to show the rest are lost.
All this the mild the beauteous Queen has done,
And William's softer half shakes Lewis' throne.
Maria does the sea command,
Whilst Gallia flies her husband's arms by land.
So, the sun absent, with full sway the moon
Governs the isles and rules the wave alone;
So Juno thunders when her Jove is gone.
Io, Britannia! loose thy ocean's chains, 
Whilst Russel strikes the blow thy Queen ordains.
Thus rescued, thus revered, for ever stand, 
And bless the counsel, and reward the hand,
Io Britannia! thy Maria reigns.

From Mary's conquests and the rescued main
Let France look forth to Sambre's armed shore,
And boast her joy for William's death no more.
He lives, let France confess the victor lives:
Her triumphs for his death were vain, 
And spoke her terror of his life too plain.
The mighty years begin, the days draw nigh
In which 
that one
of Lewis' many wives
Who, by the baleful force of guilty charms
Has long enthrall'd him in her wither'd arms,
Shall o'er the plains from distant towers on high
Cast around her mournful eye,
And with prophetic sorrow cry,
Why does my ruin'd lord retard his flight?
As well the wolf may venture to engage
The angry lion's generous rage,
The ravenous vulture and the bird of night
As safely tempt the stooping eagle's flight,
As Lewis to unequal arms defy 
Yon hero, crown'd with blooming victory 
Just triumphing o'er rebel rage restrain'd,
And yet unbreathed from battles gain'd.
See! all yon dusty fields, quite cover'd o'er
With hostile troops, and Orange at their heart,
The great designs of labouring Fate;
Orange, the name that tyrants dread:
He comes; our ruin'd empire is no more:
Down like the Persian goes the Gallic throne;
Darius flies; young Ammon urges on. 

Now from the dubious battle's mingled heat
Let Fear look back, and stretch her hasty wing, 
Impatient to secure a base retreat;
Let the pale coward leave his wounded king,
For the vile privilege to breath,
To live with shame in dread of glorious death!
In vain; for Fate has swifter wings than Fear,
She follows hard, and strikes him in the rear;