Friday, December 31, 2010

Ode for the New Year 1801

Bell's Weekly Messenger was a British newspaper that had a one-hundred year run. At the beginning of the year 1801 the journal printed a poem for the New Year by the Poet Laureate of the period, Henry James Pye.

The poem incorporates all the high-flown patriotism and fervent jingoism that we associate with the Victorian era. The language is florid, and the sentiments are lavish, but it nevertheless gives a flavour of the period, and is worth a read at this time of our New Year celebrations. Here is 'Ode for the New Year 1801' by Henry James Pye:

From delug'd earth's usurp'd domain,
   When Ocean sought his native bed,
Emerging from the shrinking main
   Rear'd many a mountain Isle its head;
Encircled with a billowy zone,
Fair freedom mark'd them for her own,
"Let the vast Continent obey
"A ruthless master's iron sway;
"Uncheck'd by aught from Pole to Pole,
"When the swoln Ambition's torrents roll,
"Those seats to tyrants I resign;
"Here be my blest abode, the Island reign be mine."

Hating the fane, where Freedom sat enshrin'd,
Grasping at boundless Empire o'er Mankind;
Behold from Susa's distant Towers
The Eastern despot sends his mighty powers:
   Grecia, thro' all her rocky coast,
   Astonish'd views the giant host:
Not the fam'd Straight, by bleeding heroes barr'd,
Nor Cecrep's Walls, her hallow'd altars guard;
   While each bold inmate of the Isles,
   On inroads baffled effort smiles:
   From every Port, with cheering sound,
   Swells the vindictive Paean round;
And Salamis' proud, from her Sea-girt shore,
Sees o'er the hostile fleet the indignant surges roar.

Fiercer than Persia's scept'red Lord:
More numerous than the emb[att]led train,
Whose thirsty swarms the sea broad rivers drain,
Lo! Gallia's plains disgorge their maddening horde!
   Wide o'er Europa's trembling lands,
   Victorious speed the murderous bands;
   Where'er they spread their powerful sway,
   Fell desolation marks their way:
Unhurt, amid a warring world alone,
Britannia sits secure, firm on her Island Throne.

   When thunders war, when light'nings fly,
   When howling tempests shake the sky,
   Is more endear'd the shelt'ring dome,
   More sweet th' social joys of home;
   Fondly her eye, lo! Albion throws
On the tried partner of her weal and woes:
   Each tie to closer union draws,
   By mingled rights and mingled laws;
Then turns averse from Gallia's guilty field,
And tears, with gen'rous pride, the lilies from her shield.

Albion and Erin's kindred race,
Long as your Sister Isles the Seas embrace,
Long as the circling tides your shores that lave,
Waft your united banners o'er the wave;
Wide thro' the deep, commercial wealth to spread,
Or hurl destruction on the Oppressor's head:
May Heav'n, on each unconquer'd nation, show'r
Eternal concord, and encreasing pow'r.
   And, as in History's awful page,
      Immortal virtue shall proclaim
   To every clime, thro' every age,
      Imperial George's patriot fame;
That parent care shall win her warmest smiles,
Which rear'd, mid Ocean's reign, the Empire of the Isles.
Henry James Pye (20 February 1745 – 11 August 1813) was an English poet. Pye was Poet Laureate from 1790 until his death. He was the first poet laureate to receive a fixed salary of £27 instead of the historic tierce of Canary wine (though it was still a fairly nominal payment; then as now the Poet Laureate had to look to extra sales generated by the prestige of the office to make significant money from the Laureateship). --from Wikipedia
 Happy New Year to you all, dear friends--May 2011 bring you all good things!

'Til next time,



Anne Gallagher said...

I'm a new follower and I just want to say what a fantastic blog you have. It's like walking into the past every time I come here. Thanks for that.

Happy Happy New Year!!!

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

Thank you so much, Anne! I'm looking forward to sharing lots more interesting information in 2011--Happy New Year!

Charles Bazalgette said...

Marvellous stuff as usual, Lesley Anne. A very successful new year to you!

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

Thank you, Charles! And the same to you!