Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

On The Russian War In The Crimea, 1854-5

Behold with awe, and high adoring wonder,
The living car of Heaven, on wheels of thunder,
Flame and reverberate through the Eastern skies,
Weak-sighted mortals, veil your dazzled eyes!
Seek not to scan-attempt not to foreshow,
By fancies vain, Heaven's vast designs below.
The living wheels, instinct with spirit eyes,
Roll onwards to their goal, let this suffice
The curious mind and still the anxious soul.
We see a part, but not the mighty whole.
The mad ambition, and the wrath of man,
Controlled, subjected to the sovereign plan
Of an omniscient Providence, shall work
Its ends by grasping Russ, and feeble Turk,
By siege and storm, by battle height and plain,
By lakes of blood and festering hills of slain,
By allied nations rousing Europe broad-
These are His tools, the mighty worker-God.
And thou, my country, what hast thou attained?
Some dear-bought triumphs. Ah! how soiled and stained,
By needless waste of life on hostile soil,
Where want and sickness, nakedness and toil,
Mowed down whole legions of thy warrior braves,
Their promised glories-nameless Crimean graves!
Yet still with jealous love I'd guard thy name,
And from the sunbright glories of thy fame
Chase every shade, and wipe off every stain,
The prestige of thy worth and power maintain.
For not alone in battle's fateful hour
Are seen and felt the triumphs of thy power;
On higher, holier fields immortal Fame
Hath crowned thy efforts, and embalmed thy name.
Thy missioned hosts, full oft in bloodless fight
The powers of darkness, with the arms of light,
Have vanquished and dispersed. Triumphant songs,
In every language, from ten thousand tongues,
Rise from the North, the South, the mighty West,
The fulgent East-they rise and call Thee blest.
The herald thou o'er all the world abroad,
To sound the advent of the Word of God.
For this no banner flings its blazon round,
No battle-charger, foaming, paws the ground,
No shout, nor shock of war, no groans, nor cries,
No garments rolled in blood speak to the skies,
No courtly laureate strikes the jewelled lyre,
And thrills the golden chords with tuneful fire.
Yet Heaven proclaims, and earth repeats the strain,
Britannia wars to loose, not bind the chain.
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