I saw it all in Fancy’s glass–
Herself, the fair, the wild magician,
Who bade this splendid day-dream pass,
And named each gliding apparition.
‘Twas like a torch-race–such as they
Of Greece performed, in ages gone,
When the fleet youths, in long array,
Past the bright torch triumphant on.
I saw the expectant nations stand,
To catch the coming flame in turn;–
I saw, from ready hand to hand,
The clear tho’ struggling glory burn.
And oh! their joy, as it came near,
‘Twas in itself a joy to see;–
While Fancy whispered in my ear.
“That torch they pass is Liberty!”
And each, as she received the flame,
Lighted her altar with its ray;
Then, smiling, to the next who came,
Speeded it on its sparkling way.
From ALBION first, whose ancient shrine
Was furnisht with the fire already,
COLUMBIA caught the boon divine,
And lit a flame, like ALBION’S, steady.
The splendid gift then GALLIA took,
And, like a wild Bacchante, raising
The brand aloft, its sparkles shook,
As she would set the world a-blazing!
Thus kindling wild, so fierce and high
Her altar blazed into the air,
That ALBION, to that fire too nigh,
Shrunk back and shuddered at its glare!
Next, SPAIN, so new was light to her,
Leapt at the torch–but, ere the spark
That fell upon her shrine could stir,
‘Twas quenched–and all again was dark.
Yet, no–not quenched–a treasure worth
So much to mortals rarely dies:
Again her living light lookt forth,
And shone, a beacon, in all eyes.
Who next received the flame? alas!
Unworthy NAPLES–shame of shames,
That ever thro’ such hands should pass
That brightest of all earthly flames!
Scarce had her fingers touched the torch.
When, frighted by the sparks it shed,
Nor waiting even to feel the scorch,
She dropt it to the earth–and fled.
And fallen it might have long remained;
But GREECE, who saw her moment now,
Caught up the prize, tho’ prostrate, stained,
And waved it round her beauteous brow.
And Fancy bade me mark where, o’er
Her altar, as its flame ascended,
Fair, laurelled spirits seemed to soar,
Who thus in song their voices blended:–
“Shine, shine for ever, glorious Flame,
“Divinest gift of Gods to men!
“From GREECE thy earliest splendor came,
“To GREECE thy ray returns again.
“Take, Freedom, take thy radiant round,
“When dimmed, revive, when lost, return,
“Till not a shrine thro’ earth be found,
“On which thy glories shall not burn.”