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The Desert Isle
by Margaret Blennerhassett

Like mournful echo from the silent tomb
That pines away upon the midnight air,
Whilst the pale moon breaks out with fitful gloom,
Fond memory turns, with sad but welcome care
To scenes of desolation and despair,
Once bright with all that beauty could bestow,
That peace could shed, or youthful fancy know.

To the fair Isle reverts the pleasing dream,
Again thou risest in thy green attire,
Fresh as at first thy blooming graces seem,
Thy groves, thy fields their wonted sweets respite,
Again thou'rt all my heart could c'er desire
Oh' why dear Isle art thou not still my own?
Thy charms could then for all my griefs atone.

The stranger that descends Ohio's stream,
Charm'd with the beauteous prospects that arise,
Marks the soft Isles that 'neath the glist'ning beam
Dance in the wave and mingle with the skies,
Sees also One that now in ruin lies,
Which erst, like fairy queen tow'red o'er the rest,
In every native charm by culture dress'd

There rose the seat where once, in pride of life
My eye could mark the queen of rivers flow,
In summer's calmness or in winter's strife,
Swol'n with the rains or baffling with the snow,
Never again my heart such joy shall know:
Havoc and Ruin and rampant War have past
Over that Isle with their destroying blast.

The black'ning fire has swept throughout her halls
The winds fly, whistling thro' them, and the wave
No more in spring-flood o'er the sand-beach crawls.
But furious drowns in one o'erwhelming grave
The hallow'd haunts it water'd as a slave:
Drive on destructive flood and ne'er again
On that devoted Isle let man remain.

Too many blissful moments there I've known,
Too many hopes have there met their decay,
Too many feelings now forever gone
To wish that thou would'st e'er again display
The joyful colouring of thy prime array
Buried with thee let them remain a blot,
With thee their sweets, their bitterness forgot.

And oh! That I could wholly wipe away
The memory of the ills that work'd thy fall
The memory of that all-eventful day
When I return'd and found my own fair hall
Held by the infuriate populace in thrall,
My own fireside blockaded by a band
That once found food and shelter at my hand!

My children (Ah a mother's pangs forbear,
Nor strike again that arrow thro' my soul)
Clasping the ruffians in suppliant prayer
To free their mother from unjust controul,
While with false crimes and imputations foul,
The wretches - vilest refuse of the earth
Mock-jurisdiction held around my hearth!

Sweet Isle! Methinks I see thy bosom torn,
Again behold the ruthless rabble throng
That wrought destruction taste must ever mourn
Alas I see thee now - shall see thee long
Yet ne'er shall bitter feeling urge the wrong
That to a mob would give the censure due
To those who arm'd the plunder-greedy crew,

Tyrants of Liberty (name so ador'd
By crowds to lawless demagogues a prey,
Who, cheated by the ever-echoing word,
Feel not their liberties are filch'd away,
Themselves the tools of base Ambition's sway,)
'Twas yours to loose "the dogs of war," and cry
"On - On the Traitors! Strike for Liberty."

Thy shores are warm'd with bounteous suns in vain,
Columbia! Of spite and envy spring,
To blast the beauty of mild nature's reign:
The European stranger who would fling
O'er tangled woods refinements' polishing,
May find (expended every plan of taste)
His works by ruffians render'd doubly waste.

Self-dubb'd philosopher - the mob's delight!
Thy looming Science like thy mammoth's bones
From quiet earth shall ne'er be dragg'd to light.
Then pray (if thou canst pray) in humble tones,
That trying Death who no distinction owns
From Freedom's shore may sweep thy coward name,
And save Columbia such blot of shame!

For thee no patriot lyre shall e'er be strung,
Foul stain of Liberty the rabble's choice!
Not e'en thy bombast from the chair that rung
Shall live in future generations' voice,
Thy baleful slang no more make fools rejoice
For who would sound the blessings of thy reign,
Confed'rate vile of Atheists and Tom Paine!

Great shad of laurel'd Washington arise!
Methinks I see thy halo'd frowning brow,
indignant see thee turn thy piercing eyes,
Thy voice exclaims - "Where are the heroes now
"Who bled for Freedom, that the rabble low
"Dare thus uncurb'd, on Freedom's sacred shore,
"Their vengeance on defenceless woman pour."

Thine was the soul that knew no base intent
By cringing arts to win the mob's applause;
Thy purpose on thy country's welfare bent,
In arms thou'rt foremost to maintain her cause,
And having freed establish'd her with laws.
How must thou weep illustrious shade - to see
Thy plans perverted by Democracy!

Freedom no more - wild Anarchy restrains,
With jarring interests the levelling throng,
Busy Ambition every effort strains,
The fangs of tyranny to plant among
The very mob by whom his curse is rung.
Spare - spare me from that phantom of equality
That equals men in knavery and brutality!

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