"Ode to Valour. Inscribed to Colonel Banastre Tarleton." by Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)
TRANSCENDENT VALOUR !–godlike Pow'r!
Lord of the dauntless breast, and stedfast mien !
Who, rob'd in majesty sublime,
Sat in thy eagle-wafted car,
And led the hardy sons of war,
With head erect, and eye serene,
Amidst the arrowy show'r;
When unsubdued, from clime to clime,
YOUNG AMMON taught exulting Fame
O'er earth's vast space to sound the glories of thy name.
ILLUSTRIOUS VALOUR ! from whose glance,
Each recreant passion shrinks dismay'd;
To whom benignant Heaven consign'd,
All that can elevate the mind;
'Tis THINE, in radiant worth array'd,
To rear thy glitt'ring helmet high,
And with intrepid front, defy
Stern FATE's uplifted arm, and desolating lance,
When, from the CHAOS of primeval Night,
This wond'rous ORB first sprung to light;
And pois'd amid the sphery clime
By strong Attraction's pow'r sublime,
Its whirling course began;
With sacred spells encompass'd round,
Each element observ'd its bound,
Earth's solid base, huge promontories bore;
Curb'd OCEAN roar'd, clasp'd by the rocky shore;
And midst metallic fires, translucent rivers ran.
All nature own'd th'OMNIPOTENT's command !
Luxuriant blessings deck'd the vast domain;
HE bade the budding branch expand;
And from the teeming ground call'd forth the cherish'd grain;
Salubrious springs from flinty caverns drew;
Enamell'd verdure o'er the landscape threw;
HE taught the scaly host to glide
Sportive, amidst the limpid tide;
HIS breath sustain'd the EAGLE's wing;
With vocal sounds bade hills and valleys ring;
Then, with his Word supreme, awoke to birth
THE HUMAN FORM SUBLIME ! THE SOV'REIGN LORD OF EARTH !
VALOUR ! thy pure and sacred flame
Diffus'd its radiance o'er his mind;
From THEE he learnt the fiery STEED to tame;
And with a flow'ry band, the speckled PARD to bind;
Guarded by Heaven's eternal shield,
He taught each living thing to yield;
Wond'ring, yet undismay'd he stood,
To mark the SUN's fierce fires decay;
Fearless, he saw the TYGER play;
While at his stedfast gaze, the LION crouch'd subdued !
From age to age on FAME's bright roll,
Thy glorious attributes have shone !
Thy influence soothes the soldier's pain,
Whether beneath the freezing pole,
Or basking in the torrid zone,
Upon the barren thirsty plain.
Led by thy firm and daring hand,
O'er wastes of snow, o'er burning sand,
INTREPID TARLETON chas'd the foe,
And smil'd in DEATH's grim face, and brav'd his with'ring blow !
When late on CALPE's rock, stern VICT'RY stood,
Hurling swift vengeance o'er the bounding flood;
Each winged bolt illum'd a flame,
IBERIA's vaunting sons to tame;
While o'er the dark unfathom'd deep,
The blasts of desolation blew,
Fierce lightnings hov'ring round the frowning steep,
'Midst the wild waves their fatal arrows threw;
Loud roar'd the cannon's voice with ceaseless ire,
While the vast BULWARK glow'd,–a PYRAMID OF FIRE !
Then in each BRITON's gallant breast,
Benignant VIRTUE shone confest !
When Death spread wide his direful reign,
And shrieks of horror echoed o'er the main;
Eager they flew, their wretched foes to save
From the dread precincts of a whelming grave;
THEN, VALOUR was thy proudest hour !
THEN, didst thou, like a radiant GOD,
Check the keen rigours of th' avenging rod,
And with soft MERCY's hand subdue the scourge of POW'R ! !
When fading, in the grasp of Death,
ILLUSTRIOUS WOLFE on earth's cold bosom lay;
His anxious soldiers thronging round,
Bath'd with their tears each gushing wound;
As on his pallid lip the fleeting breath,
In faint, and broken accents, stole away,
Loud shouts of TRIUMPH fill'd the skies !
To Heaven he rais'd his gratelul eyes;
"'TIS VIC'TRY'S VOICE," the Hero cried !
"I THANK THEE, BOUNTEOUS HEAVEN,"–then smiling, DIED !
TARLETON, thy mind, above the POET's praise
Asks not the labour'd task of flatt'ring lays !
As the rare GEM with innate lustre glows,
As round the OAK the gadding Ivy grows,
So shall THY WORTH, in native radiance live !
So shall the MUSE spontaneous incense give !
Th' HISTORIC page shall prove a lasting shrine,
Where Truth and Valour shall THY laurels twine;
Where,with thy name, recording FAME shall blend
The ZEALOUS PATRIOT, and the FAITHFUL FRIEND !
Mezzotint by John Raphael Smith, after Sir. Joshua Reynolds.
[Note that the illustration does not appear in the 1791 volume of Poems. It has been appended here for the pleasure of readers.]