Occasioned by General Washington's Arrival in Philadelphia, On His Way to His Residence in Virginia
The great, unequal conflict past, The Briton banish'd from our shore, Peace, heav'n-descended, comes at last, And hostile nations rage no more; From fields of death the weary swain Returning, seeks his native plain. In every vale she smiles serene, Freedom's bright stars more radiant rise, New charms she adds to every scene, Her brighter sun illumes our skies; Remotest realms admiring stand, And hail the Hero of our land: He comes!—the Genius of these lands— Fame's thousand tongues his worth confess, Who conquered with his suffering bands, And grew immortal by distress: Thus calms succeed the stormy blast, And valour is repaid at last. O Washington!—thrice glorious name, What due rewards can man decree— Empires are far below thy aim, And sceptres have no charms for thee; Virtue alone has thy regard, And she must be thy great reward. Encircled by extorted power, Monarchs must envy thy Retreat, Who cast, in some ill fated hour, Their country's freedom at their feet; 'Twas thine to act a nobler part For injur'd Freedom had thy heart. For ravag'd realms and conquer'd seas Borne gave the great imperial prize, And, swelTd with pride, for feats like these, Transferr'd her heroes to the skies:— A brighter scene your deeds display, You gain those heights a different way. When Faction rear'd her bristly head, And join'd with tyrants to destroy, Where'er you march' d the monster fled, Tim'rous her arrows to employ; Hosts catch'd from you a bolder flame, And despots trembled at your name. Ere war's dread horrors ceas'd to reign, What leader could your place supply?— Chiefs crowded to the embattled plain, Prepaid to conquer or to die— Heroes arose— but none like yon Could save our lives and freedom too. In swelling verse let kings be read, And princes shine in polish'd prose; Without such aid your triumphs spread Where'er the convex ocean flows, To Indian worlds by seas embrac'd, And Tartar, tyrant of the waste. Throughout the east you gain applause, And soon the Old World, taught by you, Shall blush to own her barbarous laws, Shall learn instruction from the New: Monarchs shall hear the humble plea, Nor urge too far the proud decree. Despising pomp and vain parade, At home you stay, while France and Spain The secret, ardent wish convey'd, And hail'd you to their shores in vain: In Vernon's groves you shun the throne, Admir'd by kings, but seen by none. Your fame, thus spread to distant lands, May envy's fiercest blasts endure, Like Egypt's pyramids it stands, Built on a basis more secure; Time's latest age shall own in you The patriot and the statesman too. Now hurrying from the busy scene, Where thy Potowmack's waters flow, Mayt thou enjoy thy rural reign, And every earthly blessing know; Thus He* whom Rome's proud legions sway'd, Beturn'd, and sought his sylvan shade. Not less in wisdom than in war Freedom shall still employ your mind, Slavery shall vanish, wide and far, 'Till not a trace is left behind; Your counsels not bestow'd in vain Shall still protect this infant reign, So when the bright, all-cheering sun From our contracted view retires, Though fools may think his race is run, On other worlds he lights his fires: Cold climes beneath his influence glow, And frozen rivers learn to flow. O say, thou great, exalted name! What Muse can boast of equal lays, Thy worth disdains all vulgar fame, Transcends the noblest poet's praise, Art soars, unequal to the flight, And genius sickens at the height. For States redeem'd— our western reign Restored by thee to milder sway, Thy conscious glory shall remain When this great globe is swept away, And all is lost that pride admires, And all the pageant scene expires. * Cincinnatus
December, 1783. This poem is in the public domain.