An Ode - Humbly Inscribed To The Queen, On the Glorious Success of Her Majesty's Arms

When great Augustus govern'd ancient Rome,
And sent his conquering bands to foreign wars,
Abroad when dreaded, and beloved at home,
He saw his fame increasing with his years,
Horace, great bard, (so fate ordain'd) arose,
And, bold as were his countryman in fight,
Snatch'd their fair actions from degrading prose,
And set their battles in eternal light:
High as their trumpets tune his lyre he strung,
And with his prince's arms he moralized his song.

When bright Eliza ruled Britannia's state,
Widely distributing her high commands,
And, boldly wise and fortunately great,
Freed the glad nations from tyrannic bands,
An equal genius was in Spenser found;
To the high theme he match'd his noble lays;
He travelled England o'er on fairy ground,
In mystic notes to sing his monarch's praise:
Reciting wondrous truths in pleasing dreams
He deck'd Eliza's head with Gloriana's beams.

But, greatest Anna! while thy arms pursue
Paths of renown, and climb ascents of fame,
Which nor Augustus nor Eliza knew,
What poet shall be found to sing thy name?
What numbers shall record, what tongue shall say
Thy wars on land, thy triumphs on the main?
O fairest model of imperial sway!
What equal pen shall write thy wondrous reign?
Who shall attempts and feats of arms rehearse,
Nor yet by story told, nor parallel'd by verse?

Me all too mean for such a task I weet;
Yet if the sovereign Lady designs to smile
I'll follow Horace with impetuous heat,
And clothe the verse in Spenser's native style:
By these examples rightly taught to sing,
And smit with pleasure of my country's praise,
Stretching the plumes of an uncommon wing,
High as Olympus I my flight will raise,
And latest times shall in my numbers read
Anna's immortal fame and Marlborough's hardy deed.

As the strong eagle in the silent wood,
Mindless of warlike rage and hostile care,
Plays round the rocky cliff or crystal flood,
Till by Jove's high behests call'd out to war,
And charged with thunder of his angry king,
His bosom with the vengeful message glows,
Upward the noble bird directs his wing,
And towering round his master's earth-born foes,
Swift he collects his fatal stock of ire,
Lifts his fierce talon high, and darts the forked fire.

Sedate and calm thus victor Marlborough sate,
Shaded with laurels, in his native land,
Till Anna calls him from his soft retreat,
And gives her second thunder to his hand:
Then leaving sweet repose and gentle ease,
With ardent speed he seeks the distant foe,
Marching o'er hills and vales, o'er rocks and seas,
He meditates and strikes the wondrous blow.
Our thought flies slower than our General's fame;
Grasps he the bolt? (we ask) when he has hurl'd the flame.

When fierce Bavar on Judoign's spacious plain
Did from afar the British chief behold,
Betwixt despair, and rage, and hope, and pain,
Something within his warring bosom roll'd:
He views that favourite of indulgent Fame,
Whom whilom he had met on Ister's shore;
Too well, alas! the man he knows the same
Whose prowess there repell'd the Boyan power,
And sent them trembling thro' the frighted lands,
Swift as the whirlwind drives Arabia's scatter'd sands.

His former losses he forgets to grieve;
Absolves his fate with a kinder ray
It now would shine, and only give him leave
To balance the account of Blenheim's day.
So the fell lion, in the lonely glade,
His side still smarting with the hunter's spear,
Though deeply wounded, no way yet dismay'd,
Roars terrible, and meditates new war,
In sullen fury traverses the plain
To find the venturous foe, and battle him again.

Misguided prince, no longer urge thy fate,
Nor tempt the hero to unequal war;
Famed in misfortune, and in ruin great,
Confess the force of Malbro's stronger star.
Those laurel groves (the merits of thy youth)
Which thou from Mahomet didst greatly gain,
While, bold assertor of resistless truth,
Thy sword did godlike Liberty maintain.
Must from thy brow their falling honours shed,
And their transplanted wreaths must deck a worthier head.

Yet cease the ways of Providence to blame,
And human faults with human grief confess;
'Tis thou art changed, while Heaven is still the same;
From thy ill counsels date thy ill success:
Impartial Justice holds her equal scales,
Till stronger virtue does the weight incline;
If over thee thy glorious foe prevails,
He now defends the cause that once was thine.
Righteous the war, the champion shall subdue,
For Jove's great handmaid, Power, must Jove's decrees pursue.
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Matthew Prior

Matthew Prior was an English poet and diplomat. more…

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"An Ode - Humbly Inscribed To The Queen, On the Glorious Success of Her Majesty's Arms" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 12 Nov. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/27327/an-ode---humbly-inscribed-to-the-queen,-on-the-glorious-success-of-her-majesty's-arms>.

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