The life and works of William Cullen Bryant
A month after getting to Bridgewater his poetical faculties
were put in request for a Fourth of July ode, which hardly
broke in upon his routine, although it revived some of the old
spirit of the politician. It was rather rhymed declamation
than poetry, in which he took occasion to deplore the folly
and ravages of the war and to rejoice in the downfall of Na
poleon, whom the allies had shut up in Elba. He lauded the
valor and persistency of England, and upbraided his own coun
trymen for having taken no part in the great work of inde
pendence achieved on the continent of Europe.* His assiduity
of study is evidenced by the elaborate digests and notes that
are found among his papers. They are arranged with extreme
* A few stanzas from this ode will show the spirit of it :
& quot; Our skies have glowed with burning towns,
Our snows have blushed with gore,
And fresh is many a nameless grave
By Erie s weeping shore.
In sadness let the anthem flow
But tell the men of strife,
On their own heads shall rest the guilt
Of all this waste of life.
& quot; Well have ye fought, ye friends of man,
Well was your valor shown ;
The grateful nations breathe from war
The tyrant lies o erthrown.
Well might ye tempt the dangerous fray,
Well dare the desperate deed :
Ye knew how just your cause ye knew
The voice that bade ye bleed.
& quot; To thee the mighty plan we owe
That bade the world be free ;
The thanks of nations, Queen of Isles !
Are poured to heaven and thee,
Yes ! hadst not thou, with fearless arm,
Stayed the descending scourge ;
These strains, that chant a nation s birth,
Had haply hymned its dirge. & quot;