Vision Of Columbus - Book 8

And now the Angel, from the trembling sight,
Veil'd the wide world–when sudden shades of night
Move o'er the ethereal vault; the starry train
Paint their dim forms beneath the placid main;
While earth and heaven, around the hero's eye,
Seem arch'd immense, like one surrounding sky.
Still, from the Power superior splendors shone,
The height emblazing like a radiant throne;
To converse sweet the soothing shades invite,
And on the guide the hero fix'd his sight.
Kind messenger of Heaven, he thus began,
Why this progressive labouring search of man?
If man by wisdom form'd hath power to reach
These opening truths that following ages teach,
Step after step, thro' devious mazes, wind,
And fill at last the measure of the mind,
Why did not Heaven, with one unclouded ray,
All human arts and reason's powers display?
That mad opinions, sects and party strife
Might find no place t'imbitter human life.
To whom the Angelic Power; to thee 'tis given,
To hold high converse, and enquire of heaven,
To mark uncircled ages and to trace
The unfolding truths that wait thy kindred race.
Know then, the counsels of th'unchanging Mind,
Thro' nature's range, progressive paths design'd,
Unfinish'd works th'harmonious system grace,
Thro' all duration and around all space;
Thus beauty, wisdom, power, their parts unroll,
Till full perfection joins the accordant whole.
So the first week, beheld the progress rise,
Which form'd the earth and arch'd th'incumbant skies.
Dark and imperfect first, the unbeauteous frame,
From vacant night, to crude existence came;
Light starr'd the heavens and suns were taught their bound,
Winds woke their force, and floods their centre found;
Earth's kindred elements, in joyous strife,
Warm'd the glad glebe to vegetable life,
Till sense and power and action claim'd their place,
And godlike reason crown'd the imperial race.
Progressive thus, from that great source above,
Flows the fair fountain of redeeming love.
Dark harbingers of hope, at first bestow'd,
Taught early faith to feel her path to God:
Down the prophetic, brightening train of years,
Consenting voices rose of different seers,
In shadowy types display'd the accomplish'd plan,
When filial Godhead should assume the man,
When the pure Church should stretch her arms abroad,
Fair as a bride and liberal as her God;
Till warm benevolence and truth refined,
Pervade the world and harmonize mankind.
And thus fair Science, of celestial birth,
With times long circuit, treads the gladsome earth;
By gradual steps to mark the extended road,
That leads mankind to reason and to God.
In elder times, when savage tribes began,
A few strong passions sway'd the wayward man;
Envy, revenge and sateless lust of power
Fired the dark soul and stain'd the fields with gore.
By jarring strife, all milder joys supprest,
Lost their soft influence on the furious breast
No friendly ties the barbarous feuds assuage,
And ceaseless carnage, feeds the brutal rage.
When different tribes, in social bands combined,
Their local views the joyless soul confined,
Eternal bickerings brutal strength supply'd,
Cities are wall'd and warring hosts divide.
When infant arts, in growing nations, rose,
They lured the envy of surrounding foes;
The savage bands united sieze the prey,
Destroy the learning and obstruct the sway.
Thus, at the Muse's call, when Thebes arose,
And science sway'd where nurt'ring Nilus flows,
Rich with the spoils of art, fair structures blazed,
And barb'rous nations envy'd as they gazed;
The tempting pyramid, the growing store,
The charm of conquest and the grasp of power
Lured the dark world, with envious pride esate,
To whelm fair Science in the wrecks of state.
Till Thebes and Memphis nameless ruins lie,
And crush'd the power that raised them to the sky.
O'er bright Chaldea's plains her vot'ries stray,
Described the stars and fix'd their wandering way,
The unclouded skies the shepherd learn'd to read,
His loves to cherish and his flocks to feed;
Till haughty Babel stretch'd an envy'd sway,
And furious millions warr'd the arts away,
Ilissus' banks display'd a happier seat,
Where every Muse and all the graces meet;
Parnassian heights she soars; then, steering far,
Driven by the close pursuit of vengeful war,
She wings her flight, a western region gams,
And moves in majesty o'er Latian plains.
But pride and conquest follow where she leads,
Her eagle flies, the untutor'd savage bleeds,
Rome's haughty Genius, taught by her to soar,
With pride of learning swells the pride of power;
From Brits, from Scyt
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Joel Barlow

Joel Barlow was an American poet, diplomat, and politician. more…

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"Vision Of Columbus - Book 8" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 4 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/21561/vision-of-columbus---book-8>.

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